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Viewing cable 05BRASILIA1231, ARAB-SOUTH AMERICAN SUMMIT: BUSTS AND GAFFES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BRASILIA1231 2005-05-10 14:02 2011-02-06 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brasilia
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L BRASILIA 001231 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2014 
TAGS: PREL ETRD XR XF
SUBJECT: ARAB-SOUTH AMERICAN SUMMIT: BUSTS AND GAFFES 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Philip Chicola, reasons 1.4 (b & d) 

1. (C) The Arab-South American Summit began with a bust, and a gaffe. First the bust. At the opening of the Arab-South America Investment Conference and Business Fair occurring parallel to the Summit, Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Trade Luiz Furlan spoke of doubling within two years the level of trade between South America and the Arab world. (The Minister's target is not far-fetched. Commerce between the two regions grew from just USD 4 billion in 2003 to USD 8.2 million in 2004.) Unfortunately, for the Minister, almost no one was listening. The hall, with a capacity of 3,500, held perhaps (we're being generous) 400 businessmen, the majority of whom were Brazilian. About 1,250 businessmen had registered for the event. The Ministry of External Relations rationalized the embarrassing turnout noting that many businessmen were still arriving in Brasilia. Moreover, according to Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade Executive Secretary Marcio Fontes, businessmen could participate in other similarly organized meetings in Rio and Sao Paulo -- more logical venues for commercially-oriented events. 

2. (C) And the gaffe. To add salt to the wounds of the pitiful turnout, Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa, seated at the head table, abruptly departed the hall without explanation, shocking both the organizers and the (few) Arab businessmen present. Press reports suggested the Arab League leader was upset with the order of protocol which had him speaking fourth, after other lower ranking officials. 

3. (C) Worst of all, the final Summit headcount of attending Arab heads of state is just five out of 22, (Algeria, PNA, Iraq, Djibouti, Qatar.) Even the attendance of some South American presidents may be half-hearted; for example, a Chilean diplomat confirmed that President Lagos will be in Brasilia only a few hours. 

4. (C) Comment: While some diplomats in town described the Summit -- so far -- as a "fiasco," we believe speculation on the impact of a Summit bust on Brazilian foreign policy and on Foreign Minister Amorim personally is premature. But it is clear that Foreign Minister Amorim's reputation, already damaged by the Seixto Correa fiasco in the WTO race, is riding on both the outcome of the Summit and forward movement on Brazil's UN Security Council aspirations. 

Chicola