- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

RIO DE JANEIRO — South American and Arab nations ended a historic summit yesterday with a declaration calling for an end to terror and for greater economic cooperation.

Discussion topics in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, ranged from the war in Iraq to ways to increase trade and combat poverty. At its conclusion, the nations on hand issued a declaration outlining their shared goals for commerce and support for one another’s political objectives.

The summit was not quite the harmonization of individual ideals into a common goal that its architect, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had envisioned when he proposed the summit during a visit to the Middle East in 2003.

The leftist Mr. Lula da Silva has been a strong proponent of reaching out to other developing countries in the hope of establishing new trade ties and lessening their dependence on wealthy nations.

For most of the two days of meetings, South American representatives talked business and about ways of augmenting trade relations with Arab nations, while their counterparts focused their remarks on criticizing U.S. and Israeli policy in the Middle East.

Dubbed the “Brasilia Declaration,” the 15-page final document called for a ban on nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and denounced all forms of terrorism.

It also expressed concern about U.S. sanctions against Syria and called for Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders and the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The leaders also added a section asking the United Nations to host an international conference to study terrorism and create an exact definition of a terror crime.

Although it is tough on terrorism, the declaration avowed the right of nations to “resist foreign occupation in accordance with the principle of international legality and in compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Many saw that as a reaction to U.S. and Israeli condemnation of groups such as the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, both of which are considered terrorist groups by the United States.

Regarding Iraq, the document said the group of leaders “condemns terrorist operations that targeted civilians, infrastructure and the democratic process.”

New elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani — making his first trip abroad as Iraq’s leader — had asked the South American nations to support his country’s fight against terror.

“Terrorism is not limited to Iraq, it is a global curse,” Mr. Talabani said. “We hope for your help in this initiative to combat the terrorism that has been carried out against the Iraqi people, against the cause of freedom and democracy.”

Only seven of the 22 Arab nations were represented by a head of state.

“The possibility of creating real geopolitical realignment wasn’t there,” said Christopher Garman, a Brazil-based analyst for the Eurasia Group consulting firm.

“These are very different regions with very different agendas,” he added. “It’s no surprise that much didn’t come out of this.”

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