February 1999 News

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OPEC Chief Hails Indo-Pak Talks

26th February 1999
The Pioneer
By: Sidharth Mishra

ALIGARH: In the first major international reaction to the Vajpayee-Sharif summit, Mr Obaid Bin Saf Al-Nasseri, President of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), on Thursday said, "The Indo-Pak talks to overcome neighborly tension is most welcome."

Talking to the "The Pioneer after he was conferred D Litt (Honoris Causa) by the Aligarh Muslim University, Dr. Al-Nasseri said: "Trade between the two countries could help to ease longstanding tension. It could herald a new dawn on the economic front in the sub-continent."

OPEC controls petroleum prices across the world and has its secretariat in Europe. However, the ogranisation is dominated by Arab Countries and plays a crucial role in Arab Politics.

Dr. Al-Nasseri, who represents United Arab Emirates in the OPEC, is the first Arab leader to react to the Lahore declaration.

Dr. Al-Nasseri said Indo-Pak relations have a direct bearing on the Emirates as a large number of nationals from both countries work in the Gulf and contribute substantials to the Emirate's economy.

Dr. Nasseri said he expected an ease in tension in the subcontinent, and "that should give a boost to the Asian economy, which at present is facing a major crisis."

The OPEC chief, who is Emirates Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, is considered one of the founders of the Petro-Dollar Economy, which dominates oil and money trade across the world.

On the crisis plaguing the Arab world and the American presence in Gulf, Dr. Nasseri said: "The Americans have certain interests in the Gulf. Their interest have been hurt in the past. Their presence is required to protect their interest."

Speaking at the special convocation earlier, the OPEC chief said India and the UAE enjoyed a special relation. "The conferment of the degree symbolises this relation. There is no doubting the fact that it will prosper further."

Earlier, in his welcome address, AMU Vice-Chancellor Mahamood-ur Rahman said: "Dr. Nasseri had a soft corner for the down-trodden and his economy.

"By dint of his genius and hard work, he stirred a stagnant economy to its present commanding position." The V-C said Dr. Nasseri had a soft corner for the down-trodden and his economic ideas had provided succor to the underdog.

Mr. Rahman said the UAE has a long standing relation with the Muslim university.

"Emirates ruler, Shiekh Zaid bin Sultan provided grants for setting up the Institute of Petroleum Engineering, way back in 1974."

Addressing the students later, the OPEC chairperson said: "Muslim must sink narrow religious differences and join the national mainstream. They must participate and contribute to the process of national building." The OPEC chief, who was accompanied by the UAE Ambassador to India, Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mussally, was earlier taken to Sir Syed's mausoleum in AMU's Victorian buggy, driven by four horses.

He was escorted to the convocation by ceremonial guards of AMU, wielding unsheathed swords. A visibly moved Dr. Nasseri announced the Institution of 11 gold medals of topers of the 11 faculties.

The dignitary also visited the Maulana Azad library and inspected the original medieval manuscripts.

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