The Japan Arab Dialogue Forum
(Overview)

- Japan Arab Dialogue Forum was established with the intention to deepen the dialogue between Japan and the Arab countries and search for the modalities of the cooperation Japan and the Arab world amidst the drastic changes taking place in the Middle East (Head:Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, Former Prime Minister; Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director, Library of Alexandria; Mr. Khaled bin Mohammed Al Gosaibi, Minister of Planning and Economy). The First Meeting of "The Japan Arab Dialogue Forum" was held in Tokyo in September 4 and 5, 2003, sponsored by the Japan Foundation and in cooperation with the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

- In this Forum, we discussed "Post-war Iraq and the role of the international community" and " Socio-economic development in the Middle East." This Forum was not only extremely meaningful in deepening our mutual understanding but also gave us hope for further developing our relationship.

- We reached a consensus on continuing to hold this Forum. The participants welcomed Egypt's proposal to host the next Forum at Alexandria, Egypt. The specific timing will be fixed through diplomatic channels.

- This meeting was established for the purpose of having candid exchange of views. This Forum was not intended to issue conclusions or consensus. Neither will any formal minutes be produced. The contents of the discussion will be reported to the leaders of each participating country.

- Immediately after the meeting, Mr. Hashimoto reported the following overview in the joint press conference.

First session (Post-war Iraq and the role of the international community)

- We discussed what kind of cooperation can be made between Japan and the Arab countries to stabilize the situation in Iraq from the perspective that Iraq situation will have a grave impact on the stability in the Middle East.

- On humanitarian assistance, it was suggested that Japan and the Arab countries try to step up the cooperation by, for example, promoting triangular cooperation. Japan and Egypt are already implementing joint medical assistance project in Iraq, but it is desirable to expand further on such cooperation. The need to protect cultural heritage in Iraq was also emphasized.

- Arab countries are already extending humanitarian assistance to the Iraqis, however, to further enhance such assistance, it was expressed that there is a need for security to be ensured and authority be given to the Iraqis to establish their new government. There is also the opinion that justice in the Middle East be further pursued. Though it is necessary for a new UN resolution to be adopted in order to gain support from the international community, resolution alone is not sufficient. It is desirable that a political process be established for the Iraqi people to participate in. There was also an opinion that efforts be made to resolve the Middle East peace issue, in particular the Palestinian issue, in a fair manner.

- Terrorism is intolerable as in other parts of the world, but at the same time, the efforts should be made to address the political and economic problems that lie in the background of terrorism.

Second session (Socio-economic development in the Middle East)

- A consensus was reached that it is indispensable that eco-social development be realized in the Middle East for the sake of peace and stability in the Middle East.

- The Middle East is presently faced with the challenge of the need to increase employment opportunities as a result of population explosion and to strengthen its competitiveness amidst globalization. At the same time, it was stated that the countries in the Middle East are taking serious steps to bring about reform, which needs to be understood.

- It was pointed out that human development, including skill training, holds one of the keys to resolving these problems.

- Participants expressed their expectations that partnership relationship be built with a long-term perspective in such a way that will bring about mutual benefits based as appropriate on Japan's technical development, in particular, Japan's post-war economic development. In order for Japan-Arab nations' relations to become more comprehensive, specific ideas were discussed on possible cooperation between Japan and the Arab countries including promotion of economic exchange.

- There was discussion on possibility to promote collaboration between Japan and the Arab countries not only on the government level but also private sector level to rebuild Iraq's economy.

- Participants from Saudi and Egypt explained the movement toward tariff unification and economic integration with EU, and expressed their views that it would be desirable to seek for the possibility of free trade agreement between Japan and the Arab countries in order to strengthen partnership between Japan and the Arab countries.

- Japan and the Middle East is in complementary relationship from economic point of view, therefore, there is no doubt that they need to strengthen mutually dependent relationship. From this viewpoint, it is meaningful to consider what kind of economic framework between Japan and Arab countries is possible.

- The participants discussed various issues more keenly than originally anticipated. Especially on the subject of eco-social development there was not enough time to discuss all the themes that were raised. It was therefore decided that the core-group, a part of the delegations, be established to deepen the discussion. The details of the core-group meeting will be set through the diplomatic channel.

I. The Schedule of the 1st meeting of the Japan-Arab Dialogue Forum

Sep. 4th (Thu.) [theme 1: Post-war Iraq and the role of international community]
- courtesy call on H.E. Prime Minister Koizumi(all the Dialogue members)
- Reception hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (at Iikura House)
Sep. 5th (Fri.) [theme 2: socio-economic development of the Middle East]
[theme: Next meeting (subjects, time and place, membership, etc)]
- joint press conference

II. Participants of the First Meeting of the Forum

1. Japan

- Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, Former Prime Minister
- Mr. Kenji Miyahara, Chairman, Japan Foreign Trade Council
- Mr. Yukio Okamoto, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister
- Mr. Takaya Suto, Director, Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, the Japan Institute of International Affairs, Former Ambassador to Egypt
- Mr. Masayuki Yamauchi, Professor, University of Tokyo

2. Egypt

- Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director, Library of Alexandria
- Dr. Hatem El-Karanshawy, Special Adviser of Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
- Dr. Farouk Ismail, Former President, Cairo University (Member of Shoura Council)
- Amb. Abdelfattah Shabana, Former Ambassador to Japan (served 80-84)

3. Saudi Arabia

- Mr. Khaled bin Mohammed Al Gosaibi, Minister of Planning and Economy
- Dr. Hashim bin Abdullah Yemeni, Minister of Trade and Industry

(end)


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