Kerry, Netanyahu, Abbas Reach ‘Framework Agreement’


Tel Aviv – US and Israeli political sources in Tel Aviv revealed on Thursday two documents showing that US Secretary of State John Kerry was very close to reaching a “declaration of principles” formula with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early 2014.

Sources confirmed that the two documents were handed to US President Donald Trump, who is preparing to reach a settlement on their basis.

The two documents were drafts of a “framework agreement” prepared in 2014 for then-Secretary of State John Kerry as outlines of what would eventually become the final peace agreement.

Both drafts included language on disputes between the Israelis and the Palestinians, including what the borders of a Palestinian state would be, the status of Jerusalem, mutual diplomatic recognition, and refugees.

The first draft was written mid-February 2014, and the second one was written in mid-March the same year.

They both reflect Barack Obama’s positions and were based on secret negotiations between Netanyahu adviser Yitzhak Molcho and Hussein Agha, a confidant of Abbas, in London in 2013.

US senior officials in the former administration said that Netanyahu wanted the US administration to take the results of this dialogue channel and rephrase it in a US document to be presented to both sides.

The first draft was written two days before Kerry and Abbas’s meeting in Paris. At the time, the US team worked closely with Netanyahu office to draft the document. They were hoping to succeed with the Israelis in drafting a text that would be accepted by Netanyahu, and then presenting it to Abbas, thus, transferring the negotiations to the stage of talking about a permanent agreement.

The draft maintained that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city, but that both Israelis and Palestinians want their capitals in the city, but did not ensure that those goals would be realized.

The conditions it set for mutual recognition included both states accepting that the other was a legitimate nation state – one for Jews, and another for Palestinians.

Once those states had been established, according to the draft, the “right of return” would be waived, meaning Palestinians living in the West Bank or neighboring countries would not claim the right to return to ancestral homes inside Israel’s borders, most of which were vacated during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

When the first draft was presented to Abbas, he rejected it. Therefore, the State Department developed a new draft in March 2014, which they hoped would be more pleasing to Abbas. At the top, the document included a new goal: “to end the occupation that began in 1967.”

The new document also took a stronger stance on Jerusalem, insisting that both countries would have their capitals there. The status of the Old City, Jewish neighborhoods, and other religious sites was left open to further negotiations.

John Kerry: What We Got Right


With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the old.

There are some who see nightmares wherever they look and insist that the entire global system is unraveling and that America’s position as world leader is in precipitous decline.

As the departing secretary of state, I cannot claim objectivity. But I will leave office convinced that most global trends remain in our favor and that America’s leadership and engagement are as essential and effective today as ever.

A major reason is that President Obama has restored assertive diplomacy as our foreign policy tool of first resort and deployed it time and again to advance our security and prosperity.

This is evident, first of all, in our campaign to defeat ISIS. Two and a half years ago, these murderers were on the march across Iraq and Syria. Instead of rushing into a unilateral war, we responded by quietly helping Iraq form a new and more inclusive government, and then assembling a 68-member coalition to support a rehabilitated Iraqi military, the Kurdish Peshmerga and other local partners to liberate territory once occupied by Daesh.

We are engaged in a climactic effort to free the largest remaining strongholds in Iraq (Mosul) and Syria (Raqqa). These military steps depended on the diplomatic cooperation we brokered to cut off Daesh’s finances, slow its recruiting and rebut its poisonous propaganda on social media and within the region.

President Obama took office with Iran’s nuclear program racing ahead and our nation under mounting pressure to take military action. While making clear we would do whatever it took to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, we started with diplomacy, building the strongest international sanctions regime the world has ever seen, and testing whether Iran would negotiate a deal that could ensure its nuclear program was exclusively peaceful. As a result, without firing a shot or putting troops in harm’s way, the United States and our partners reached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which blocked Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and made our nation, our allies and the world safer.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the United States could have responded as we had six years earlier, when Russian intervention in Georgia was largely met with rhetoric alone. But having repaired diplomatic ties badly damaged by the Iraq war, the Obama administration was able to defy skeptics by working with our European Union partners to impose sanctions that have isolated Russia and badly damaged its economy. We also bolstered NATO with a major expansion of our security assistance to allies in the Baltics and Central Europe.

Throughout, we continued to work with Russia when it was in our interest to do so. But because we have stood firm, Russia is now — despite the boasts of its leaders — plagued by dwindling financial reserves, a historically weak ruble and poor international relations.

President Obama has made clear to our allies and potential adversaries in Asia that the United States will remain a major force for stability and prosperity in their region. We have rallied the world behind unprecedented sanctions against a menacing North Korea, increased our naval presence in the Pacific, worked with regional actors to support the rule of law in the South China Sea and forged a strategic partnership with India. We also united key partners behind a landmark, high-standard trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that we still believe should be ratified by Congress — all while maintaining an often mutually beneficial relationship with Beijing.

When President Obama took office, efforts to protect our planet from the catastrophic impacts of climate change were going nowhere, stymied by decades of division between developed and developing countries. But our outreach to China led to a series of breakthroughs that made last year the most consequential in the history of climate diplomacy. Building on, rather than backing away from, that progress would allow a historic shift toward clean energy and a chance of saving the planet from the worst ravages of climate change.

The fruits of this administration’s diplomacy can also been seen in our own hemisphere, where we strengthened our position by normalizing relations with Cuba and helped end Colombia’s decades-long civil war. In Africa, we gained friends by training young leaders and led a successful global effort to contain Ebola.

Obviously, we haven’t solved every problem, particularly in the chronically combustible Middle East. But the United States was absolutely justified in stressing the need for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.

I also remain convinced that the formula we pursued to end the agonizing conflict in Syria was, and remains, the only one with a realistic chance to end the war — using diplomacy to align key countries behind establishing a nationwide cease-fire, providing humanitarian access, marginalizing terrorists and promoting Syrian-led talks on creating a constitution and democratic government.

The response of the international community to the tragedy in Syria will long be debated. For years, United States officials had those same debates in the Situation Room. Some options, such as an enormous deployment of ground troops, were rightly dismissed. Others, including deploying additional special forces in limited operations, were closer calls. Month after month, we weighed the deteriorating conditions and uncertain benefits of intervention against the very real risks, including deeper involvement in a widening war. While I did not win every argument — no policy maker does — I can testify that all viable ideas received a fair hearing.

I am not a pacifist. But I learned as a young man who fought in Vietnam that before resorting to war, those in positions of responsibility should do everything in their power to achieve their objectives by other means.

I just returned from Vietnam, where smart and sustained diplomacy has accomplished what a decade of war never could: developing a dynamic capitalist society, opening an American-style university with the promise of academic freedom and, perhaps most improbably, strengthening ties not just between our people, but also between militaries that once saw each other as enemies.

Looking ahead, my hope is that the turbulence still evident in the world does not obscure the extraordinary gains that diplomacy has made on President Obama’s watch or lead to the abandonment of approaches that have served our nation well.

Diplomacy requires creativity, patience and commitment to a steady grind, often away from the spotlight. Results are rarely immediate or reducible to 140-character bites. But it has helped build a world our ancestors would envy — a world in which children in most places are more likely than ever before to be born healthy, to receive an education and to live free from extreme poverty.

The new administration will face many challenges, like every administration before it. But it will take office this week armed with enormous advantages in addressing them. America’s economy and military are the strongest in the world, and diplomacy has helped put the wind at our back, our adversaries on notice about our resolve and our friends by our side.

The New York Times

Paris Conference Calls on Israel to End its Occupation


Paris – An international conference was concluded Sunday in the French capital, with more than 70 countries and organizations calling on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and supporting the two-state solution as the only means to achieve sustainable peace in the Middle East.

In a final statement issued at the end of the conference, participants called on Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders, as required by United Nations resolutions, and for both parties to “abstain from unilateral actions” that could threaten future negotiations.

However, neither Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the meeting.

Netanyahu described the conference as “a last gasp” from the past and said it was unhelpful to the peace process.

“The conference taking place in Paris is an idle conference. It was coordinated between the French and the Palestinians. Its purpose is to enforce on Israel conditions that are not in line with our national needs. Of course it creates a bigger gap regarding peace because it hardens the Palestinians’ stance as well as putting us further away from direct negotiations without any preconditions,” Netanyahu said.

Abbas, who was expected to arrive in Paris on Saturday following an official visit to Rome, was asked by French authorities to delay his visit for two weeks, according to Palestinian sources.

Addressing the gathering, French President François Hollande said: “Our common aim, which is a noble aim, is that of a fair and lasting peace between the two countries. I am conscious of the reservations and doubts about this conference … but it is urgent to act.”

“The two-state solution is threatened and there is a need to preserve it. … Now is not the moment to stop. The solution of two states is the only way forward and the only solution that will answer both sides’ aspirations and legitimate rights”, he added.

For his part, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that participants have expressed the need to preserve two states, “which is the only solution possible and which is threatened today.”

“If we don’t do anything, we risk letting the situation descend into a conflict; a conflict written in advance,” Ayrault said.

Commenting on a statement by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, in which he pledged to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Ayrault said such move would be a “provocation”, warning about “extremely serious consequences.”

“When you are president of the United States, you cannot take such a clear-cut, unilateral position on this issue. You have to try to create the conditions for peace,” he said.

John Kerry and Israel: Too Little and Too Late

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (Photo: Carlos Barria / Reuters)

In a speech this week laying out the Obama administration’s parameters for a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, Secretary of State John Kerry stated what has been obvious to most observers for many years: that Israel’s construction of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land has all but destroyed the two-state solution. Unfortunately, Mr. Kerry’s speech offers far too little, and comes much too late.

In 2013, shortly after he became secretary of state, Mr. Kerry warned that there was only a two-year window left for creating a Palestinian state. Now, almost four years later and in the last days of his tenure, he has finally laid out parameters for a two-state solution. But with President-elect Donald J. Trump suggesting he will align the United States with Israel’s extreme pro-settler government, the Obama/Kerry parameters will most likely be consigned to oblivion like those promulgated by Bill Clinton 16 years ago.

During Mr. Obama’s eight years in office, the illegal Israeli settler population has swelled by 100,000, to well over 600,000. Simultaneously, for eight years Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has directed a barrage of calculated slights, insults and acts of disrespect at the president of the United States. The Obama administration has finally reacted with Mr. Kerry’s speech and by allowing Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli settlement expansion, to pass in the United Nations Security Council. By doing so, the United States simply acted in accordance with international law and the global consensus of nearly 50 years.

Meanwhile, a third generation of Palestinian children is growing up under a brutal occupation and Gaza has been under siege for a decade. Palestinians are obliged to seek the permission of the Israeli military for the most basic of needs, such as medical treatment, or to travel abroad or even just to Jerusalem. As Mr. Kerry asked in his speech: “Would an Israeli accept living that way? Would an American accept living that way?” It is no wonder that the hopelessness caused by Israeli settlement expansion and land theft in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the closing of all avenues for realization of the aspirations of Palestinian youth have produced grave social ills, as well as outbreaks of violence.

The Kerry parameters and Resolution 2334 are not going to change much in this dismal picture nor will they save Mr. Obama’s tepid legacy where Palestine is concerned. The resolution has no built-in enforcement mechanism, and it is not necessarily binding. However, it calls upon states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.” This provides the international legal justification for sanctions by states, boycotts of goods produced in settlements, and divestment by unions, foundations and universities of assets in companies that support the colonization of Palestinian land.

Wide support for such actions already exists, even in the United States. A recent poll conducted by the Brookings Institution found that 46 percent of Americans believed that their government should impose sanctions against Israel over the construction of new settlements; the figure rises to 60 percent among Democrats.

Maybe, just maybe, had there been several more, equally firmly worded Security Council resolutions over the past eight years, that might have tempered the sense of impunity that the Israeli government and the settler movement have enjoyed for so long. Perhaps in that case Israelis would have discovered that they could not continue with endless settlement expansion and obtain American largess at the same time. Perhaps being confronted by enough 14-0-1 votes, representing the view of virtually every country on the planet, would have caused the Netanyahu government to pause in its frenzied colonization campaign.

Or perhaps not. Since Friday’s vote, Mr. Netanyahu has recalled Israeli ambassadors to two of the countries that sponsored the resolution and temporarily limited working ties with 12 of the Security Council members that voted for it. He has accused the Obama administration of a “shameful ambush,” as if the resolution were a dirty trick instead of a statement in line with longstanding American policy and international law. And his government has vowed to press forward with plans to build even more settlements.

What is clear is that the Netanyahu government will never willingly endorse a peaceful and fair resolution of this conflict. If the Trump administration chooses to join Mr. Netanyahu on such a course, that makes the need for pressure in forums such as the United Nations, as well as through boycotts, divestment and sanctions, all the more necessary. European countries, Russia, China, India, and civil society in the United States and elsewhere must act decisively to underscore the global isolation of the proponents of unending occupation and colonization in Palestine. As too little and too late as Resolution 2334 and the Kerry speech were, they do offer an opening for an overdue global response to the arrogance of the Israeli and American enablers of the denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

(The New York Times)

Yemen’s Quartet Seeks New Ceasefire within Two Weeks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir deliver a statement after a meeting at the State Department in Washington

Riyadh, London – Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and his U.S. counterpart John Kerry stressed that the new peace roadmap for Yemen would be based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216, the Gulf Initiative and the outcome of national dialogue.

During a joint news conference on Sunday in Riyadh, Kerry expressed hope that a new ceasefire in Yemen could be reached within two weeks.

Kerry stressed that the U.S. would work within the Yemen’s quarter, which includes Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to achieve a new pause in the fighting, which would be the eighth ceasefire attempt since hostilities escalated early last year.

The U.S. secretary of state added that the group of four nations, formed previously to focus on Yemen, “hopes that within two weeks it might be possible to achieve” a pause in fighting.

“The failure to achieve a lasting cessation of hostilities is disturbing to all of us,” Kerry said.

Meanwhile, Gulf diplomatic sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that participants at the quartet meeting have stressed Houthi rebels must present guarantees of their commitment to withdraw from occupied cities and to hand over their arms.

The sources added that participants also hoped to reach an agreement over a new ceasefire in Yemen within a period of two weeks, provided that representatives from both warring parties attend a coordination meeting on this matter.

Kerry announced the outcome of the latest Quartet meetings, which were held in the presence of U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

He noted that the meeting has issued a joint communiqué, focusing on the need to abide by UNSCR 2216, the Gulf Initiative and the outcome of national dialogue.

Commenting on reports regarding stalling in weaponry deals with the U.S. Jubeir said that Riyadh did not receive any official notice from the U.S. side, in terms of stalling weaponry purchase, indicating that such reports were merely baseless and unfounded.

Jubeir stressed that Riyadh would keep calling on the international community to impose severely deterring sanctions on Iran, for its continued intervention in the region and its backing of terrorist cells inside the Kingdom.

Kerry Arrives, Yemen Anticipates


Riyadh- In a visit that seems to be the last attempt before departing the White House, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive today, Sunday, to Riyadh in order to hold discussions with high rank Saudi officials and regional and international leaders to reach a political solution for the Yemeni crisis and to discuss the latest occurrences in the region.

The U.S. Secretary of State is trying to give a political push to the Yemeni roadmap led by U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed—this roadmap is a modified version of the concepts provided by Kerry during the quadrilateral meeting held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia one month ago.

The new roadmap, however, did not garner the approval of legal authorities that see it as a drift from the basic references: the Gulf Initiative, outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue and the U.N. Security Council resolution 2216.

Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi stated that the Yemeni government and leadership represented in Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi are anticipating a new U.N. draft to achieve peace. “Rebels are required to present sufficient guarantees that they will abide by peace, withdrawal, handing out arms, terminating war and reinforcing the confidence”, Mekhlafi added.

His statement was made after his meeting with Ould Cheikh in Riyadh. Mekhlafi stressed the government’s keenness and restless efforts to achieve a sustainable peace based on the three agreed upon references.

“Rebel militias are conducting escalating political steps that threaten then national unity,” he continued.

From his part, Ould Cheikh expressed the U.N. rejection to unilateral procedures ad emphasized that peaceful solution is the best choice.

Kerry Hopes Trump would Maintain Obama’s Foreign Policy Heritage

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leave after their bilateral meeting at the APEC Ministers Summit in Lima, Peru November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Ralston/Pool - RTX2U831

New York- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged President-elect Donald Trump to maintain the heritage of U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration in foreign policy, warning that “it’s also essential that we don’t turn our back on the alliances, friendships and principles.”

Trump’s consultations are expected to result in the appointment of officials in the foreign, defense and treasury departments. However, the president-elect is still looking for a secretary of state and seems to be hesitating among Republican nominee Mitt Romney, former CIA Director David Petraeus and U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

In a related matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump is willing to appoint Wilbur Ross as a commerce secretary.

Amidst this vagueness regarding the secretary of state’s post, choosing Romney would represent an assurance to diplomats in the department and moderates in the Republican Party as well as the allies of the U.S.

However, Romney lacks sufficient experience in diplomacy and has previously described Trump as a hypocrite.

Petraeus is also nominated for this position, knowing that he served before as the head of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan before being appointed as the director of CIA in 2011-2012.

He commented after his meeting with Trump on Monday that the president-elect “has shown a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well”.

Trump also considers figures including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 72. Giuliani was among the first to back Trump but he lacks experience in foreign policy.

The President-elect chose financial expert Steven Mnuchin to lead the U.S. Treasury, along with announcing willingness to leave his business to avoid any conflict of interests. Yet, he added that he is not mandated to do this under the law but wants to fully focus on the management of the country to achieve a great U.S. once again.

John Kerry: ‘Washington Continues to Achieve Climate Goals’

john kerry

Marrakesh- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday, before the audience of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, that his country is on its way to achieve its climate goals and cannot abstain from carrying out its obligations one week after electing Donald Trump.

Kerry believes that market forces are already driving the switch from fossil fuels to renewable power sources.

“I can tell you with confidence that the United States is right now, today, on our way to meeting all of the international targets that we have set, and because of the market decisions that are being made, I do not believe that that can or will be reversed,” Kerry said amidst the audience’s applause.

“Emissions are being driven down because market-based efforts are taking hold.”

Kerry urged countries to treat the earth’s changing climate as an urgent threat, citing melting glaciers, stronger storms, and record-breaking droughts.

“While I can’t stand here and speculate about what policies our president-elect will pursue, I will tell you this:

In the time that I have spent in public life, one of the things I’ve learned is that some issues look a little bit different when you’re actually in office compared to when you’re on the campaign trail,” he said.

Trump has called climate change a hoax, and said he would rip up the Paris deal, halt any U.S. taxpayer funds for U.N. global warming programs, and revive the U.S. coal sector.

Kerry observed that he had been participating in the U.N. climate change negotiation process ever since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

“I was there as a reporter too.” He suggested that he would attend the next COP as plain old “Citizen Kerry.”

At the end of his talk Kerry said: “No one has the right to make decisions that affect billions of people based solely on ideology or without proper input.”

Iran Shuts Down News Website for Disclosing Taliban’s Former Leader’s Moves


London- Did Iran provide information for the United States on the movements of Taliban’s former Leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on May 21?

Speculations which circulated for several months suggested that Mullah’s car was targeted by a missile in less than 20 minutes after his arrival to Pakistan from Iran.

This matter reappeared following the court session on Sunday in Tehran against the Iranian site “Jahan News,” which was the first to reveal Mullah’s presence in Tehran.

The conservative website was shut down in June after the court issued its verdict on charges of disclosing secrets.

The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs filed the lawsuit, accusing the website of revealing confidential information by publishing the news of Mansour’s presence in Iran for several months and him convening meetings with Iranian officials.

The website was also accused of allegedly running “false stories” that pose a “threat to national security.”

The jury convicted the site in the media court, which submitted the accusations filed by the ministry.

Notably, the court refused to look into another case against the same website, but this time it was filed by the office of the Attorney General, who accused the website of publishing “false stories.”

On June 5, Jahan News published an article that claimed that Mansour stayed in Iran for two months and left the country one week prior to his death.

The article claimed that he had “discussions with various bodies.” The talks centered on the Taliban’s commitment “to prevent ISIS” from expanding, “especially in Afghanistan’s northeastern border and the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border.”

For his part, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Myanmar, said Mansour “posed a continuing imminent threat to U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces and members of the U.S. and NATO coalition.

He said the air strike on Mansour sent “a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners.”

“Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort,” Kerry said.

“He also was directly opposed to peace negotiations and to the reconciliation process. It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together.”

Kerry said the leaders of both Pakistan and Afghanistan were notified of the air strike but he declined to elaborate on the timing of the notifications, which he said included a telephone call from him to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Kerry: ‘U.S. Presidential Elections Downright Embarrassing’

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Reuters

London-The U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has called the country’s presidential election “downright embarrassing.”

Kerry made his comments during a Q&A for London sixth-formers alongside Mayor Sadiq Khan, who met him at London’s City Hall on Monday.

“This election has been difficult for our country’s perception abroad. There are moments when it is downright embarrassing,” he said as he explained the impact of 2016 elections on U.S. relations abroad.

“There are times when it steps out of any norm that I’ve known, and I ran for president in 2004,” Kerry said.

“I could never have imagined debates that were not focused real issues. So, it’s been a real change.”

The race for the White House has turned increasingly toxic, with Donald Trump fueling wild conspiracy theories about vote “rigging” and Hillary Clinton warning that the provocative billionaire was straying into authoritarianism.

He said the candidates were making it difficult for him to carry out his foreign policy work for Barack Obama’s government.

Kerry said: “When you sit down with some foreign minister in another country, or with the president or prime minister of another country, and you say, ‘Hey, we really want you to move more authoritatively towards democracy’, they look at you.

“They’re polite, but you can see the question in their head and in their eyes and in their expressions. It’s hard.

“Or you run in and you say, ‘By the way, it’s really important you guys get your budget passed,” and I can see the quizzical look at us. So this is a difficult moment.”

Kerry was in London to accept an international diplomatic prize from the Chatham House think tank, which he was jointly awarded with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for their part in the Iranian nuclear deal.

He also co-hosted a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Libya attended by the Libyan prime minister and representatives of France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.