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Doha Time & Temperature

Top diplomat stresses need for stability in Arab world
Tuesday, 11 March, 2008, 01:48 AM Doha Time

Business Reporter

From left: Mitta, Japanese Ambassador to Turkey Nobuaki Tanaka, Wangsheng and Sibal
A DURABLE stability in the Arab world is of prime importance as failure to establish peace in the region will lead to new threat that may go beyond its geography and disrupt energy supplies, a top diplomat has warned.
Addressing the ‘Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference’, India’s former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said energy resources of the region, which claims 66% of oil and 40% of gas reserves, are a reason both why peace has been disturbed and why it is needed at all costs.
“The failure to establish peace in the region has given rise to new threat to peace that go well beyond its geography,” he said at a panel discussion, chaired by Raj Mitta, chairman, Essential Value Associates.
The world is now witnessing religious ideology of non-state actors promoting violence across frontiers compared with the earlier political ideology of state actors spawning trans-continental conflict, he said.
Turning to Iran, he said any escalation of the simmering confrontation with Tehran because of “brinksmanship” of any party will have dire consequences, igniting political and sectarian divisions, fomenting more terrorist activity, disrupting energy supplies and making nuclear issues possibly more intractable in the longer term.
“The other instabilities of this region may become unmanageable if suspicions about the acquisition of nuclear know-how by one country leads to its neighbours too seek them,” Sibal said.
He said there is a critical need to create conditions for durable peace and stability in the region while examining how investment and technology tie-ups between the Gulf and Asia could be strengthened.
Stressing that the end of Cold War has brought no peace dividend to the region, he said the cost of these conflicts has been staggering in political, economic and human terms.
“It is an unflattering commentary on the international political system that for 60 years this part of the world should have known little respite from incessant conflict,” Sibal said.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has festered long enough and should be ended definitively on the basis of principles all sides accept in theory but fail to adhere to in practice, he said, adding Iraq desperately needed peace for its own sake and for the future of the region because of the instabilities it irradiated outside its borders.
India, he said, through its stepped up engagement with the Arab region was contributing its weight to its security and economic well-being on a basis of mutual respect and equality.
Asserting that energy security has become a global issue at a time when globalisation gathers speed, Chinese Ambassador Wang Wangsheng said Beijing supports the Arab peace initiative and welcomed efforts that could help smooth the regional tension and reboot the Middle East peace process.
“We are ready to work with the international community and continue to play a constructive role in finding an early solution to the Middle East that is fair, just and comprehensive,” he said.
Wangsheng said China maintains that the international nuclear non-proliferation regime should be upheld and called for peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through political and diplomatic means.
“We hope that the relevant parties can hold on the constructive measures for increasing mutual trust in a joint effort to safeguard peace and stability in the Gulf region,” he said.
Supporting the effort of the Iraqi government in promoting dialogues among different groups for reconciliation, he said China hoped that Iraq and its neighbours can live in peace by accommodating each others’ concerns through consultations and by the international community can carry out extensive operations to help Iraq facilitate its reconstruction process.

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