Tunisia and the Arab Economic Summit?

Niveen Wahish, Saturday 15 Jan 2011

It will be business as usual at the Arab Economic Summit to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh later this week. Tunisia's "jasmine revolution" will not figure on agenda

An empty seat? Whether or not Tunisia will be represented at this week's Arab Economic Summit, nor what form that representation will take, remains unknown, says summit coordinator Mohamed El-Orabi.

The Second Arab Economic Summit is scheduled to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh on Wednesday, 19 January. Even before last night's turn of events, Tunisia had not confirmed who would be representing it, El-Orabi said, adding that the prime minister was most likely to come. Now it is likely to be the Tunisian Ambassador to Cairo and Tunisia's Permanent Representative to the Arab League Al-Monguie Al-Badawie. But "the summit is not their priority now; internal affairs are more important."

Tunisian sources told Ahram Online earlier that Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamal Morgan or Ambassador Al-Monguie Al-Badawie  might attend.

At this stage El-Orabi does not expect a change in the summit's agenda. He did not, however, rule out that the leaders issue a statement similar to that issued by the Arab League calling on all Tunisian political forces to unite and bring back calm. But "we cannot preempt what happens, the topic is still hot."

As for who else will participate, El-Orabi said things on that front are not clear either, "What happened (in Tunis) could cause those who were coming to change their mind. Nothing is certain yet."

What is certain is that the summit will take place as scheduled.

Prior to the summit on Wednesday a high-level meeting will take place on Sunday, 16 January, followed by a ministers of foreign affairs meeting Monday. On Tuesday, business, civil and youth forums will be held.

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