Arab states should not fear peoples' aspirations: Juppe

22nd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Arab regimes should not fear their peoples' aspirations for democracy and reform, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told a pro-democracy forum in Kuwait on Tuesday.

"A year after the start of the Arab Spring ... states gathering here should show they do not fear the aspirations of their peoples and civil society," Juppe told the opening session of the eighth Forum for the Future.

"On the contrary, we must support them through promoting the principles of democracy and human rights," the French chief diplomat said at the forum, a partnership between the G8 and the broader Middle East and North Africa.

Arab revolts have already toppled the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya while Yemeni and Syrian regimes are facing similar revolts with a bloody crackdown that has killed hundreds of civilians.

Top officials from 40 nations, half of them Arabs, are taking part in the forum aiming to promote reform and the role of civil society.

"Our countries are capable of overcoming the current circumstances ... while taking into account the legitimate aspirations of our peoples," Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said in his opening statement at the one-day forum.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said the Gulf state is following "with deep concern the events in Syria and Yemen," and stressed his "total respect for the will and choices of our peoples."

The Forum for the Future was launched at the G8 summit in 2004 in the United States.

Participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to promoting reform in the Middle East and North Africa region and pledged to assist in establishing a suitable environment for open and comprehensive dialogue.

© 2011 AFP

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