EU, Arab League to hold 1st joint summit amid tensions
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EU, Arab League to hold 1st joint summit amid tensions

The two-day conference is to go underway at the International Congress Center in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday. Migration, security, climate change, economy, and regional conflicts are expected to be discussed during the event. On the European side, the summit is overshadowed by internal differences arising from Britain’s controversial push to break away from the EU. The Arab states, on the other hand, have had tense relations among themselves over a Saudi Arabian-led blockade of Qatar. EU relations with the Arab states have also partially suffered over a Saudi-led war on Yemen — which has prompted sporadic protests from European states due to its huge civilian casualties — and the state-sponsored murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last October. Saudi crown prince avoids event Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, whom Turkey has hinted ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, is also avoiding the summit. “Mohammad’s attendance at the weekend summit in Egypt would have put the Europeans in an awkward position as they try to strengthen cooperation with their Arab partners,” the DPA said in a report. “Many confirmed their attendance only after it became clear” that neither Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir nor the Saudi crown prince would show up, Reuters reported. Bashir is subject to an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court and is facing domestic protests, which have taken a deadly turn. The ailing Saudi King Salman will be leading the kingdom’s delegation to the summit. Qatar sends low-level delegate Qatar is also sending a lower-ranking representative to the Arab League, according to London-based paper al-Araby al-Jadeed. The decision by Doha came after “unprofessional” behavior by Cairo to send the invitation to “the Greek Embassy in Doha instead of submitting it to the permanent representative of Qatar to the Arab League.” Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain are three of the four countries that have imposed the blockade on Qatar under Saudi leadership since June 2017. Despite the tensions, the EU and the Arab League are attempting to enhance relations by holding the event anyway. Former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has warned that Arab nations need to assert themselves. “If the Arab side weakens itself, Europe will impose its agenda,” he has said. A German government source has also told Reuters, “The goal is to start a dialog with other world regions. By that, the EU aims to counter Russia’s and China’s growing influence in these regions.”

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