CAIRO: In case South Sudan becomes a separate state, its membership in the Arab League will be subject to the member states’ consent, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Monday.
Speaking about the upcoming January vote in which South Sudan will decide whether to secede or not, Moussa told reporters, “We are aware that there are numerous risks in Sudan.”
Moussa will be heading to Khartoum on Tuesday.
“We have joined the observe mechanism in Sudan. We will have 50 to 60 representatives from all the Arab League states working on the referendum in Southern Sudan,” he said.
Asked about South Sudan’s possible membership in the League in case of separation, he said, “The membership to the Arab League is not for sale, the country that joins it has to do so with the consent of the member state and its determination to cooperate in political, social and economic agenda.”
Moussa also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, expressing dismay over the stalled peace process. “There have been continuous delays when it comes to Israeli conflict and not only the public is angry but governments as well and the current state can not continue,” he said.
“It doesn’t seem like we’re going in the right direction but this will not go on for long,” he added.
The Arab League will go directly to the United Nations Security Council about Israel’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Arab League had slammed last September a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Israel’s nuclear activity as “weak and disappointing.”
“We shall continue; we will not stop; we have to persist. It’s not a question of confrontation, this is not an appendix to the Arab-Israeli conflict but a different [issue by itself],” said Moussa.
“If there is an honest approach to Iran then why [turn their back] to Israel as a state in the region,” he added.
On a more hopeful note, Moussa was pleased when he talked about the progress in Iraq. But he emphasized that “there needs to be a truce in Iraq so that it becomes a safe country.”
In reference to the recent visit by the Egyptian Foreign Minister to Iraq, Moussa said that there will be further cooperation between the Arab countries and Iraq. “It is part of us and we need it,” he said.
Cooperation between Arab states in general is still lacking. According to Moussa negations about reforming cooperation are ongoing, but will take place in stages over the next five years.
There are two major areas that need such reforms. The socio-economic council needs to have more power than other councils, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs council needs to be restructured to have more authority.
Moussa was also asked about running in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections in 2011 as many online forums and groups are calling on him to do so. “Every Egyptian has the right to think of [becoming president of his country], however I prefer to give my position on this at the suitable moment,” he diplomatically answered, brushing off notes that the suitable moment is very close.