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Actions, not words, need of hour: PM

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DOHA: A meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held here yesterday ahead of the 21st Arab summit agreed to take a strong stance against the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Addressing a joint press conference at the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani and the Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the meeting had decided to use all the legal channels and international laws to get the arrest warrant revoked.

The leaders, however, didn’t confirm or deny whether Al Bashir would attend the Doha summit which begins tomorrow. Asked if there was pressure on Qatar not to invite Al Bashir to the summit, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem said, “Nobody can dictate us what we should do.”

He added that the invitation has already been delivered to Al Bashir.

The Sudanese foreign minister who came to Doha to attend the foreign ministers’ meeting returned to Khartoum yesterday. He is expected to return today with his country’s delegation to attend the summit.

Asked if the foreign minister had left in protest against the weak stance of some Arab leaders on the arrest warrant, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t think so. It is normal that a minister returns to his country in the middle of a meeting to discuss some important issues back home.”

Mubarak to abstain

Asked about the decision of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to abstain from the summit, the Prime Minister said: “The presence of President Mubarak would have enriched the conference. There are differences but we would like to emphasise the strong bilateral relations between the two countries.”

The leaders said the main agenda of the summit was to seek reconciliation among the Arab states to strengthen unity. The Arab League chief said differences between the member states had narrowed after the recent Economic summit in Kuwait and the speech of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia had played a major role in this regard.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem urged the leaders attending the summit to rise to the expectations of the Arab peoples and come out with tangible actions.

“The Arab people are awaiting for more action than words from us,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem told the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting held at the Doha Sheraton to ratify the summit agenda. The Prime Minister chaired the meeting, representing the host country, Qatar and in his capacity as chairman of the summit. The Prime Minister said the current circumstances had made it imperative on all to showcase more transparency and frankness to further enhance joint Arab action.

“In yesterday’s consultative session we have studied with all frankness and transparency viewpoints and ideas for what should be done on issues of concern to the Arab nations at present and in the foreseeable future,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the summit agenda will include the Palestinian issue, the situation in Sudan and the international criminal court’s arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, and the conditions in Iraq and Somalia.

The Prime Minister said the heinous crime Israel committed in the Gaza Strip was aimed at breaking the will of the Palestinian people, but thanks to the brave and heroic resistance of the Palestinian people despite the Israeli war machines, blockades and repression, that target has not been realised at all.

On Iraq, the Prime Minister welcomed the efforts of the Iraqi government to reinstate stability, security and national reconciliation in the country.

He reaffirmed Qatar’s support and solidarity to all efforts geared for consolidating the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.

On Somalia, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem said Qatar had welcomed the recent accord and the election of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as president of Somalia and the formation of the Somali government.

He called on all rival factions in Somalia to place the national interests above any other considerations and jointly work for maintaining unity, security and stability of their home country.

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