RIYADH – Arab and South American leaders and heads of state started arriving on Tuesday to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, to participate in the summit of South American-Arab Countries, or ASPA, which aims to promote political and economic cooperation between the two regional blocs.
Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud received on Tuesday at Riyadh international airport, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and a number of Arab presidents, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Iraqi President Fuad Masum and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has arrived in Riyadh, officials from his accompanying delegation told EFE.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is also expected to arrive in the Saudi capital, with the main objective of trying, like Correa, to tackle the falling prices of oil with the monarchs of the Persian Gulf.
The two-day ASPA summit marks 10 years since this political and economic forum was launched, with Riyadh hosting the fourth summit, after Brasilia in 2005, Doha in 2009 and Lima in 2012.
The summit brings together 22 Arab states and 12 South American countries amid high-level representation.
Peruvian Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano, Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Mauro Vieira; Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez; and Colombia, Maria Angela Holguin will also attend the summit among others.
At 7:00 p.m. the ceremonial reception will begin at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center, which will be followed by the opening session.
Two documents are planned to be issued by the end of the summit; a political one named “Riyadh Declaration,” and the other will be economic.
The Riyadh Declaration is expected to address conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen, while the economic document seeks to promote agreements and strengthen investments.
According to the Brazilian government, trade between South America and the Arab countries grew by 183 percent over the past decade, from $13.7 billion in 2005 to $34.8 billion during the past year.