Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Some encouraging news

From the AP:

On Iraq, the gathering of 20 world powers and regional countries, including many opposed to the U.S.-led invasion, represented an acknowledgment of the need for international cooperation to deal with the consequences of the war.
While sharp differences remain on how to proceed, the participating nations and world bodies have committed to supporting the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government and finalized a draft statement, obtained by The Associated Press.
In it, they gave strong backing to the Iraqi government's war against insurgents but did not set a deadline for withdrawing U.S.-led forces from Iraq, despite a push by France and some Arab countries.
The draft communique for the two-day conference, which ends Tuesday, also says the interim Iraqi government should meet with its opponents to try to persuade them to take part in the general elections scheduled for Jan. 30.
The meeting brought together Iraq's six neighbors - Iran, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia - as well as Egypt and several other Arab countries, China and regional bodies such as the Group of Eight, the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Syria's foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, had tried to seek support for setting a deadline for the withdrawal of foreign forces in Iraq. But the draft communique allows the Iraqi government to decide when the U.S.-led troops should depart. It does remind them that their mandate is "not open-ended."
For all its bloodshed, the insurgency enjoys a certain support in the Arab world, where many regard the U.S. and other troops as occupiers.
The draft communique says the participants condemn "all acts of terrorism in Iraq" and call for "the immediate cessation of all such acts in order to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people."

Though I'm not sure anything of substance can or will come from a 20-nation conference, this news is somewhat encouraging.
I don't think the bit about "a certain support in the Arab world" is meant to be ironical, but it amuses me.
Earlier in the article the reporter references the late Mr. Arafat; "Israel and the United States had refused to talk to Arafat, branding him an unacceptable negotiating partner because of what they said was his support of terror."
I found it difficult to take the article too seriously after that. As always, consider the source.