Middle East WEF to promote peace, economic diversification

SHUNEH, Jordan, May 18, 2007 (AFP) – Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Friday opened a three-day Middle East World Economic Forum, urging political and business leaders to help end violence and prepare for the “day after peace.” Representatives of the G11 group of developing countries are also due to meet on the sidelines of the three-day WEF, with 1,000 participants from 50 countries expected on the shores of the Dead Sea.

The annual forum has adopted “putting diversity to work” as its main theme to spotlight “efforts to accelerate economic diversity … (and) emphasising the urgency of promoting peace,” organisers said.

“This is our year of opportunity — opportunity to end violence, opportunity to make peace, opportunity to build the regional economic powerhouse of tomorrow,” the king said.

“Arab countries are engaged in a major effort to achieve a just settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said, referring to a revived initiative for peace with Israel that was adopted at an Arab summit in March.

“It is in the interest of this entire region — and indeed, the world — that we succeed.”

The king urged participitants to look ahead towards “the day after peace … to realise the benefits of peace a