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Politics of Iraq, Middle East take center stage at World Economic Forum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – The World Economic Forum turned its eye toward politics and the Middle East Saturday, with visitors and leaders focusing on Iran’s push to develop nuclear power and creating calm in neighboring Iraq.

British officials are holding talks Monday with the deputy of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani ahead of a looming decision on whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for breaking the seals on its nuclear facilities, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.

“The problem is one of Iran’s own making,” Straw said at the World Economic Forum. “What we have said is they have to provide objective guarantees that their nuclear capability is solely for civil nuclear power purposes…What we want to see is them coming forward and then we can get to a normalization, plenty of incentives and all the rest.”

Hajim Alhasani, president of the Iraqi National Assembly, and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi talked about their country’s future, including how to fight the stubborn insurgency that has taken root there.

As ministers from about 25 World Trade Organization members arrived at a hotel for talks on the sidelines of the annual meeting, they said that although little substantive progress has been made this week, they remained optimistic that they could reach a final deal on the current trade round by the end of the year.

“Whatever deal there is, of course there’s going to be a deal. Everybody wants it. Everybody is holding some card, some key in his pocket,” said India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Kamal Nath.

“But with everybody wanting to remain engaged now in the multilateral process … that is the best thing which has happened in this round.”

On Friday, Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest man, said his foundation would triple the money it gives for eradicating tuberculosis and urged more countries, philanthropists and private citizens to do the same.

“This is a very tough disease,” the Microsoft Corp.chairman and co-founder said. “t is going to take all of us, private sector, the harmaceutical companies, philanthropy and governments in countries that have the disease, to participate as well.”

Meanwhile, the realization that Hamas would lead the next Palestinian government dominated discussions on the sidelines of the forum, with most taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the group whose claims of suicide bombings in Israel have roiled the fabled road map to peace.

“The international community, especially from Europe, from the (United) States, Japan, the Arabs have been very supportive to the Palestinians,” Palestinian Economy Minister Mazen Sinokrot said. “We have to give the new coming leaders a real coordination message. We have to give them a chance, and let us see what will happen.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered his country to serve as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Also Friday, the U.N. bird flu chief cautioned against thinking that the disease was losing its edge because of differing mortality rates in Asia and Turkey.

“We must still maintain utmost vigilance for and preparations for the next human influenza pandemic,” David Nabarro told reporters.