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Cablegate: Arab-South American Summit: Missing Heads of State

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BRASILIA 001229

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ETRD XR XF
SUBJECT: ARAB-SOUTH AMERICAN SUMMIT: MISSING HEADS OF STATE
UNDERMINE CREDIBILITY

REF: BRASILIA 760

1. (U) On the eve of the Arab-South America Summit in
Brasilia, one key point of contention is preventing consensus
on the long-running negotiation over a Summit Declaration,
according to the local press. On Sunday May 8, senior
representatives from the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon,
with Venezuelan support, continued to press for inclusion in
the final Declaration language that would exclude acts of
"national defense" from the category of terrorism. The rest
of South America opposes the language. Foreign Ministers are
meeting May 9 to seek a resolution to the impasse.

GUESS WHO IS "NOT" COMING TO DINNER?
----------------------------------

2. (U) According to Brazil's Ministry of External Relations
(MRE), all but four South American Presidents will attend the
Summit (Vice President Francisco Santos Calderon will
represent Colombia; Foreign Ministers Antonio Parra Gil and
Maria Levens will represent Ecuador and Surinam respectively.
Bolivian President Carlos Mesa canceled at the last minute
due to pressing legislative issues.)

3. (U) However, senior attendance from the Arab side is
well below GOB expectations -- and hopes. While Algeria's
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the principal Arab League
organizer for the Summit, will lead the Arab side, an
unexpected absentee will likely be Morocco's King Mohamed --
reportedly because of a spat over appropriate hotel
accommodations for his oversized delegation. Minister of
Cooperation and Foreign Affairs Mohammed Nasser Mansoor
al-Khasibi will head Morocco's delegation. Arab Heads of
State include Qatar Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thanim,
Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President Jalal
Talabani of Iraq (participating in his first international
event as president), and President Mahmoud Abbas of the
Palestinian Authority. The Comores Islands will be
represented by Ms. Soule Abdou ElBack, President of the
Autonomous Island of Ngazija. The Prime Ministers of
Lebanon, Syria, and Mauritania, and Foreign Ministers from
the rest of the other Arab League countries round off the
expected attendees.

4. (SBU) Comment: While the Summit does not officially
begin until May 10, Brazilian pundits already are debating
whether the absence of most senior Arab leaders has softened
the Summit's impact. We expect that locally, lower than
anticipated turn out will also raise questions about
President Lula's image as a global statesman. Five heads of
state out of a possible twenty-two from the Arab League is a
low batting average. Certainly, the absence of King Mohamed,
a prime mover and shaker during preliminary meetings between
the two regions, is a bitter pill for Brazil's leadership.
The GOB had known for two months that Egypt's President
Mubarak would not attend, however, it still had hopes for
other heads of state, particularly from the Arabian
peninsula. As Brasilia -- a city not accustomed to such
international spotlight -- remains tied up in traffic knots
because of security, some average Brazilians and journalists
are asking why are we doing this?

5. (U) We will provide a follow-up report on the summit in
septel.

Chicola

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