From the podium

From the podium

His Excellency Ali Bin Mohamad Al-Khater (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture of the State of Qatar) (Original language Arabic)

Mr. Chairman,
Mr. Director-General,
Excellencies heads of states and governments attending the Summit,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to convey to you the greetings of his Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prince of the State of Qatar and his best wishes of success for the World Food Summit in achieving the goals for which it has been convened.

Five years have passed since the 1996 World Food Summit attended by delegations from 185 states. The heads of states and governments gather here again today to follow up on the recommendations and the measures that have been taken and identify the obstacles facing the implementation of the Summitís recommendations.

Our meeting today is undoubtedly the practical expression of the international will to exert joint efforts in the fight against hunger and poverty and improve nutrition worldwide.

We are facing major and complex challenges. However, effective cooperation among countries, big and small, rich and poor, will enable us to overcome these obstacles and create an environment of meaningful cooperation to build, as soon as possible, a world free from hunger and apply a scientific approach that guarantees food balance and unconditional exchange of surpluses, through all forms of international and humanitarian cooperation and by all available means.

Convening this Summit shows once again the importance given by international efforts to food-related issues. It proves also that serious international involvement is the proper way to guarantee world food security and highlights the international community's support to FAO's efforts to improve the living conditions of millions of people, to promote the plans which have been elaborated to meet urgent and pressing needs, and to provide the necessary financial and material assistance to all peoples and cope with catastrophes all around the world. These efforts involving all governmental organizations and NGOs from various states are at the center of attention of the government of Qatar.

In this respect, we would like to reiterate that we, in Qatar, consider it an obligation for all states, within the framework of humanitarian and international cooperation, to support the resource development and financial and technical assistance programmes to help poor states to solve their agricultural problems, thus increasing global production and reducing costs for needy nations in accordance with the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the 1996 World Food Summit and in line with FAO's principles that guide our actions.

Accordingly, convinced that the fight against hunger in the world must be a political and economic priority on both international and regional levels, the State of Qatar reiterates its commitment to take all necessary actions to meet the ambitious objectives of this Summit. To this end, international resources must be mobilized to achieve sustainable development which will ensure food security for every human being, whatever his race, color, or creed may be, and wherever he may live, in the north or in the south, in the east or in the west.

We also emphasise the commitment made during the Third United Nations Conference for Developing Countries to increase technical assistance from industrialized countries up to 20% of their GNP to enhance food security in developing countries.

Furthermore, we stress the importance of alleviating the debt of LDCs, make required reforms in international trade of food products, give greater attention to development programmes and projects in the fight against transboundary plant and animal diseases, and double efforts to coordinate and support international cooperation as stated in the Doha Declaration.

Mr. Chairman,

We wish every success to your Summit in meeting its goals and we take this opportunity to pay tribute to the sincere efforts of FAOís Director-General and his assistants in implementing the Organizationís programme.

We reaffirm once again that the State of Qatar will continue to host FAO's Representation and provide all necessary facilities and assistance to achieve its goals.

The State of Qatar welcomes the opportunity to host the Regional Conference for the Near East in 2004 in Doha, as it constitutes a major step towards strengthening and sustaining bilateral technical cooperation between the State of Qatar and FAO and the various states in the near east region.

We also express our readiness to participate in any regional programme which aims at the development of our agricultural and water resources or contributes to solving our agricultural problems or those faced by other states in the region, according to FAO's Programme of Work and in coordination with the programmes to be adopted by the Summit.

May God help us.

Thank you.

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