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Doha Summit: Head of the Egyptian Delegation Refuses to Comment on President’s Absence | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The head of Egypt’s delegation to the Doha summit, Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Dr Mufid Shihab, refused to comment on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s absence from the Doha summit. In reply to questions put to him by Asharq Al-Awsat in this respect, he said: “I do not want to comment because this is a decision made by the president of the republic, and a comment on it would be appropriate only by the president.”

Explaining the circumstances of his appointment to lead the Egyptian delegation to the summit, Dr Shihab said: “The president contacted me yesterday and entrusted me with this task. He discussed with me the various topics on the agenda of the summit. This morning, I met with my colleague, the foreign minister (Ahmad Abu-al-Ghayt), and discussed with him all the topics in detail.”

He added: “President Mubarak gave me a host of directives. This is a trust, and I hope I will be up to the expectation and perform my task in the correct way.”

Dr Shihab noted that he will read a written message from President Mubarak at the meeting of the 21st regular Arab summit and another message addressed to the Arabs’ summit meeting with Latin American states on Tuesday [31 March].

Commenting on the absence of President Mubarak from the Doha summit, Dr Shihab said: “Egypt is represented at the conference and it is eager to attend. We will participate with a large delegation and have studies and reports to present.”

He added: “Each state decides the level of representation in accordance with its own considerations. That is why the president took this decision. It is the president of the republic who determines what is good for this representation.”

He continued: “Like all members of the delegation that accompanies me, I am eager to contribute effectively to the summit, regardless of the level of representation. We have studies on the various topics, and Egypt is eager to see the summit succeed in achieving its goals regarding the various issues that are on the agenda.”

Dr Shihab said the agenda includes topics related to the Palestinian issue and the progress made in the efforts to achieve inter-Palestinian reconciliation on the one hand and the efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis on the other hand. This is in addition to the steps that have been taken to rebuild the occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip, he added.

Dr Shihab noted: “These three points in the Palestinian issue will have a priority at the summit, in addition to the Sudan issue, the situation in the Darfur Province, and the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.”

He said that all these issues, in addition to the Arab-Iranian relations, were indeed discussed at preparatory meetings in the past three days and at yesterday’s meetings of the Arab foreign ministers.

He added that there are political and economic issues concerning joint Arab action that have to be discussed and that implementation of previous Arab summits’ resolutions and consolidation of joint Arab economic and trade action will also be discussed.

Noting that one of the most important topics on the Doha summit’s agenda is inter-Arab disagreements and reconciliation efforts, Dr Shihab said his country “has a vision, which it expressed at the summit’s preparatory meetings.” He added: “We will reassert this vision at the summit meeting.”

Emphasizing Egypt’s eagerness to have good relations with all Arab states, Dr Shihab said: “We bless all reconciliation moves and exert a great deal of efforts in them.”

He added: “I believe that the stand which was taken by Egypt and President Mubarak during the brutal Israeli aggression against Gaza, the efforts that were made at the time, the Arab summit that was held in Kuwait, and the president’s statements at the summit show that Egypt is interested in joint Arab action to remove the causes of the inter-Arab disagreements and support joint moves.”

He continued: “Egypt hopes that this spirit with which it works will be reciprocated with the same spirit by the various Arab countries.”

Dr Shihab said: “In any case, I am confident that all reconciliation efforts are continuing, regardless of the summit. The current summit is only a phase. The reconciliation efforts began after the Kuwait summit and were discussed at bilateral contacts yesterday between President Mubarak and the custodial of the two holy mosques, King Abdullah Bin-Abdulaziz, and the Libyan leader, Col Muammar al-Qadhafi.”

Concluding his statements, Dr Shihab said: “We hope that the Arab reconciliation efforts will bear fruit. Secondly, we hope that they will be based on the revelation of the facts, complete openness, and a belief in a clear Arab vision that will give the higher Arab interests precedence over any private interests.”

It is recalled that Dr Shihab represented his country at the Arab summit that was held in Damascus last year. In the past, he was president of the Cairo University and minister of higher education for scientific research.

He was born in Alexandria on 1 January 1936 and has written numerous books, in addition to some 40 research works and scientific articles that were published in Egyptian, Arabic and international science magazines.

Dr Shihab prepared the draft of the statute of the Arab court of justice in 1974 and presented many legal advisory opinions to the Arab League, the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council and many Arab states.

He played a prominent role as member of the national committee on Taba from 1984 to 88 and as member of the Egyptian defense team on Taba at the Geneva-based International Court of Arbitration from 1986 to 88.

He has been awarded many medals by Arab and Western states.