Beijing, Asharq Al-Awsat-In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the Arab-Chinese forum in Beijing, Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa said the Arabs told the Chinese that they cannot talk about buying and selling without defending the Palestinian issue.
Kusa said inter-Arab relations are normal and that difference in opinions does not mean disagreements. He added that some media’s occasional reports about inter-Arab disagreements are untrue.
Kusa said that his country holds contacts with all Arab states for consultation and coordination on all moves that serve all Arab states. He emphasized that unilateral action is useless. He added: “No one can treat himself by himself. Collective action is the characteristic of the age.”
The following is the text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the declaration of the strategic Arab-Chinese cooperation result in a positive relationship with Africa, especially in light of the fact that an Arab-African summit will be held in Libya in October?
[Kusa] The Chinese benefit from these forums because they are the most powerful party in terms of their financial and technical capabilities and population. All signs indicate this fact. As for the Arabs, some of them have investments, which prompted the Chinese to pay great attention to partnership with the Arabs.
There is no doubt that the Chinese began to reconsider their calculations toward extending greater support to the Arabs’ political issues.
During the meetings, the Arab side interposed four or five times to assert the importance of China’s support for the Palestinian issue.
We told them openly: You are a big power and have influence in the international arena. In addition, you are a permanent member the UN Security Council. Therefore, as our partners, you are required to extend more support to the Palestinian issue. We cannot discuss only accounts, buying and selling, and general issues without defending the primary issue, Palestine.
Thus, we talked with them clearly and at all levels.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Even with President Hu Jintao?
[Kusa] We discussed this issue in detail first with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and then with the prime minister. Afterward, we discussed the same issue, the Palestinian issue, [with the president]. The interjections centered on this point.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] So, it was not just a courtesy meeting with the Chinese president.
[Kusa] We talked openly without flattery and emphasized the Arab-Chinese friendship. We said: We have demands and rights, and you, as a superpower, must fulfill them, even if the Arabs do not ask you to support their main cause.
We asked them: Why do other states intervene to defend the Palestinian right, while China does not?
We openly said that the Palestinian issue is the first and last gateway in all our international relations, not only our relations with China.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does the strategic partnership between China and the Arabs not mean that any aggression against the Arab side is an aggression against China in terms of protecting the economic relations?
[Kusa] China is a large nation that has a great political history, and it knows its duties toward its partners. Investments prompt them to play their true role because the size of their dealings with the Arab states is larger than the size of their dealings in other regions.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Can the Arab-Chinese relationship be capitalized on in favor of Africa too?
[Kusa] There is no comparison between the two sides, Africa and China. The Africans’ position is different from that of the Arabs.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is it weak or strong?
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you not believe that Africa has a lot of resources, which China uses in manufacturing its products?
[Kusa] This is a theoretical point of view, but practically I do not think so because the infrastructure in Africa is weak. China finds even investment in Africa difficult. There is no doubt that China is trying to establish relations in Africa, and this move is in the interest of China, not Africa.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Did you hold bilateral consultations with any Arab foreign ministers in your capacity as president of the current session of the Arab summit and the upcoming emergency summit?
[Kusa] Of course, without any doubt. We are present at the same place, and, in fact, the level of inter-Arab coordination and consultation is very high.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Currently there is talk about a call for the meeting of the five-member committee. Is the aim of the meeting to discuss proposals to develop Arab action and a proposal to establish a league of the states in the region?
[Kusa] Of course, this is the program of the Arab League, and it is the Arab League secretary general who talks about this issue. A meeting at the level of foreign ministers might be held at the Arab League headquarters to discuss the initiative and develop the performance of joint Arab action.
It is known that this proposal was made by the brothers in Qatar who called for a meeting of the five-member committee at the level of ministers. Consultations are under way in this respect, and there is no disagreement over holding a meeting of this ministerial committee. Preparations for the meeting are proceeding well.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some people are talking about a call to convene the five-member committee soon at the level of leaders. Are there any signs that it will be held?
[Kusa] This is up to the Arab leaders to decide, and we support them.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] We are approaching the date of the emergency summit. Is there any active Arab move to achieve the desired progress in the issues that were discussed at the ordinary Arab summit in March?
[Kusa] As Arabs, it is in our interest to overlook the negative points and formalities and to do everything that will serve the Arab issues for the good of everyone. Libya is holding unannounced contacts with all Arab brothers at all levels. It is holding contacts with leaders and officials in the Gulf and all Arab states.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Did you meet with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in Beijing?
[Kusa] We meet each other, and there is no problem with that. Sometimes, the media imagine things that exist only in their papers, and some people talk about increasing disagreements, which do not exist between us in the first place. We say that difference in opinions and ideas does not mean that there are inter-Arab disagreements. It is not necessary for our ideas to be identical one hundred percent. Varying views are bound to exist.