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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 20:27 GMT 21:27 UK
Forum looks to post-war Mid-East
Jordan's King Abdullah addresses delegates in the WEF Royal tent
The meting is seen as a boost to the region
Jordan's King Abdullah has opened a meeting of world business leaders and politicians to discuss the situation after the Gulf War and the launch of the new Middle East peace plan.

He said the new Iraq should respect its people's right to determine its own future and urged international support for the peace plan, known as the "roadmap".

More than 1,100 delegates, including 11 heads of state or government, are attending the three-day meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Dead Sea resort of Shuneh.

Iraq's acting oil minister, Thamer Ghadhban, used the occasion to announce that he hoped the country could resume oil exports in July.

"We are now formulating a new marketing policy, it will take a few days," he added. "I cannot give an exact date on when exports will resume."

The US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, told reporters at the forum that the exports should generate $5.5 billion this year.

One Arab analyst, the BBC's Barbara Plett reports, said the summit might provide regional legitimacy to American rule of Iraq by switching the focus from politics to humanitarian aid and economic reconstruction.

'Out of the quagmire'

The WEF, which more commonly meets in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, attracted UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and both the Israeli and Palestinian foreign ministers among its delegates.

Germany's Joschka Fischer (L), Queen Rania of Jordan and Colin Powell at the WEF
Top world politicians are at the event
The Saudi co-chairman of the conference, Khalid Alireza, said he hoped that the meeting, which is in sight of the West Bank, could provide "leadership out of the quagmire".

King Abdullah also called for an effort to make the roadmap for peace a reality and called for a "comprehensive peace with two states, living side by side, in peace and stability".

Businessmen who spoke on the first day of the forum said that investment in the region would be difficult while instability and lawlessness persisted.

A survey of business leaders released at the start of the conference showed that of the third of businesses which put investment plans on hold since the Iraq war, three-fourths had still not restarted investment.


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