Sirleaf Pushes for More Arab Partnerships

Source: All Africa News
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sunday October 10, joined more than sixty African and Arab leaders and Heads of Government attending the second Afro-Arab summit, at the official opening session of the Summit in Sirte, Libya, said a presidential dispatch from Sirte, Libya.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was the chair of the first Arab-African summit held in Cairo in 1977, called on Arab and African countries to place as a top priority mutual cooperation, within the framework of Arab League (AL) and African Union (AU).

Mubarak noted that Africa and Arab countries need to work together to address the common challenges confronting them. He stressed food crisis, climate change, energy price fluctuations, deterioration of economic environment for developing countries and bloody clashes in some regions as some of the challenges that must be confronted.

The dispatch said the Egyptian President also lauded efforts by the Arab League and the African Union’s effort to make a new Arab-African Partnership Strategy. “We have lost some chances in the past few years, now we have to seize the opportunity to broaden our cooperation,” the Mubarak added.

Also addressing the summit, Libyan leader Moaummer Kaddafi said there were natural links between the Africans and Arabs in history, religion, geography, and races. He therefore, called for the establishment of a closer Arab-African community.

“We are forced to be united, no single countries can face the challenges alone,” he said.

Libya, he said, would invest about 90 billion U.S. dollars into the African countries through Libyan banks. He however did not say what would be the qualifying conditions for the loans.

President of Gabon, Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba, on behalf of the African Union President Bingu Wa Mutharika, called upon Arab and Africa countries to strengthen cooperation in all fields.

“The African people fully support the Palestinian people and their just cause,” Bongo said.

The Arab-African summit discussed several draft documents, including the draft strategy for Arab-African partnership, the draft Plan of Joint Arab-African Action (2011-2016) and the draft Sirte Declaration.

The foreign ministers of Arab and African countries in their meeting, last Saturday, drafted the strategy, which was based on the achievements of the first summit hosted by Egypt as a means to revive and promote Arab-African cooperation in the midst of regional and international challenges.

The strategy is a framework to guide the course and content of the joint African-Arab action in political, economic, social, and cultural areas.

It aims to help African and Arab countries, especially the least developed, to accelerate the pace of sustainable development in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Meanwhile, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has held discussions with the Prime Minister of Libya Dr. El Baghadadi Ali Mahmudi.

The two leaders reviewed Libyan investment in Liberia, particularly investment in agriculture and infrastructure.

President Johnson Sirleaf and the Libyan Prime Minister agreed that there was a need to speed up the implementation of the projects, particularly the renovation of the Ducor Intercontinental Hotel.

The Liberian leader also held discussions with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

During the discussions, she emphasized the need for more economic partnership between Liberia and the Gulf States, which include Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

Saturday’s discussions were a follow-up to talks between the two leaders in Qatar last year.

In other presidential news, the dispatch said the Liberian leader, last Thursday, held discussions with President Kaddafi on ongoing collaborations between the two countries and ways of enhancing and further strengthening economic and political cooperation.

The Africa-Arab Summit, held under the theme, “Afro-Arab Cooperation: Towards a Strategic Partnership,” focused on four key priority areas: politics, peace and security cooperation, economic and financial cooperation, agriculture and food security development and social cooperation.

The summit adopted a new Plan of Action, which replaced the ‘Declaration and Program of Action on Afro-Arab Cooperation,’ adopted by the first Afro-Arab Summit held in Cairo, Egypt from 7-9 of March 1977.

African and Arab leaders met then as blocs, representing the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity (OAU).


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