DOHA,(AFP) – South American and Arab leaders on Tuesday sought to forge a common alliance to confront the global financial crisis on the eve of the G20 summit of industrialised nations.
Ahead of Thursday’s G20 forum in London, leaders of the 22-member Arab League and 12 South American states staged their second summit in four years in the Qatari capital, Doha, aiming to create political and economic fronts.
“We must learn from the errors that have occurred in past crises and show… our citizens that the South American and Arab nations are walking together,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet told the gathering.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva noted that the Doha summit came two days before the London G20 summit which is due to “confront an unprecedented economic crisis.
“The world will follow carefully to see if South America and the Arab countries are capable of taking measures to prevent the financial crisis from becoming a social and political earthquake,” he said.
Lula insisted that the Doha gathering provided leaders with “an extraordinary opportunity” to endorse proposals for reform, namely “the reform of international organisations.”
“This is the only way for countries that have contributed the most to the financial crisis, the deterioration of the environment, trade imbalance and collective insecurity to assume their responsibilities,” he said.
South America and the Arab region are geographically far apart, but each contains a major oil producer, with Venezuela and Saudi Arabia among the world’s top exporters.
Gulf kingpin Saudi Arabia is the only Arab nation that will join emerging countries at the summit of leaders of the Group of 20 most industrialised and developing nations, which will also be attended by Brazil and Argentina.
The G20 summit is aimed at pulling the world economy out of its worst downturn in decades and rewriting the financial rulebooks.
South American and Arab leaders seek to bolster their economic ties, buoyed by the fact that trade between them has almost tripled to around 18 billion dollars since their first summit in Brasilia in 2005.
Leaders also hope to make progress towards forming an economic partnership and a political alliance in global institutions, diplomats said.
Among the South American representatives attending are eight heads of state, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez, who last week announced a clampdown on government spending to offset tumbling oil revenue, called for a “multipolar world,” saying “we think that (the Doha summit) is a good opportunity for this to happen.”
“The hour has come for the final fall of the American empire,” Chavez told reporters.
Regional issues, such as deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the interntional arrest warrant facing Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes in Darfur, were also raised by South American leaders.
The warrant issued on March 4 by the International Criminal Court is “a judicial horror and a disrespect to the people of the Third World,” Chavez told reporters.
“Why don’t they order the arrest of (former US president George W.) Bush, why don’t they order the arrest of the Israeli President (Shimon Peres)?” he asked.
Monday’s Arab summit in Doha united firmly behind Beshir in rejecting the ICC warrant.
Lula urged the incoming Israeli right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, leading to the creation of an independent Palestinians state.
“It is important for the new government in Israel to commit itself firmly to the peace process and respect peace agreements previously reached,” he said.