The first convention between the General Secretariat Board of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA) and the Executive Council of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA)

Kuwait,February 17-18, 2001

Supplements: (are to be considered as indivisible parts of the KUWAIT DECLARATION)

1) Names of delegations participating in the convention.

2) Texts of addresses delivered at the inaugural session.

Speech of Mr. VITALY IGNATENKO, Director General of the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia /ITAR-TASS/.
Speech of Mr. MOHAMMED AL-AJEERI, Chairman-General Manager of Kuwait News Agency /KUNA/.
Speech of Mr. MOHAMMAD YASIN MANSOURI, Director General of the Maghreb Arabe Press /MAP/.
3) Work papers (KUNA's work paper and FANA's work paper)

4) UNESCO's report about the future of national news agencies read during the convention.

Under the patronage of H.E. First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, and with collaboration of FANA's General Secretariat Board and OANA's Executive Board and with the hosting of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA),

The delegates of nine Asia-Pacific news agencies and of seven Arab News Agencies and in the presence of UNESCO's delegate and delegates of other international and regional organizations, discussed in the first meeting held in Kuwait on February 17-18, 2001 the ideal methods of cooperation between the two organizations.

Subjects for debate concentrated on ways and means of news exchange, extension of the sphere of news dissemination between both sides, development of specialized personnel working in the agencies members of both parties with the aim of raising the standard of news and information products in a manner that copes with current innovations in the information field, in addition to the diffusion of modern concepts and the full utilization of modern informatics technologies.

During the meeting, Mr. Mohammed al-Ajeeri, Board Chairman and Director-General of Kuwait News Agency; Mr. Vitaly Ignatenko, President of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA), Director-General of Itar-Tass News Agency; and Mr. Muhammad Yassin al-Mansouri, President of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), Director-General of Maghreb Arabe Presse (MAP), delivered addresses.

All these addresses emphasized the necessity of strengthening cooperation between news agencies for the sake of creation of new relations aimed at finding ways and means for improving news performance and promoting it to an international standard, in addition to developing infrastructures of news agencies of both sides to equal the standard of international news agencies.

Three working sessions were held during the tenure of this meeting, with discussion of work papers related to the subjects listed in the working agenda. A fourth session was held during which the participants heard to a report by UNESCO's Regional Adviser for Arab Countries concerning the future of national news agencies and the Internet.

Then the delegates agreed to take the following steps.

FIRST: Linking OANA's and FANA's websites on the Internet:

The meeting discussed the technical work paper presented by Kuwait News Agency concerning the available potentials for linking OANA's site with FANA's site on the Internet and listened to the intervention made by Mr. Ahmad Jassem al-Hamar, Director and Editor-in-Chief of Qatar News Agency about what is actually taking place in news exchange between the agency members of both organizations through the transmission of Qatar News Agency of Arab news to Asia and Pacific news agencies by way of the Malaysian Bernama Agency and vice versa. An ad-hoc Temporary Technical Committee was formed to study the subject of activating the linking for the present time by using the existing websites and after discussion of all proposals and opinions put forward by the ad-hoc Temporary Technical Committee, the following recommendations were taken:

1-1- Addition of OANA's icon to the home page of FANA and vice versa. This will enable every user of the home page of one organization to obtain concise information about the activities and performances of the other organization. It will be possible to link the user and to acquaint that person with news issued by any one of the agency members of both organizations without the need to enter the site of the main home page of each organization.

1-2- Addition of a home page address for OANA to the home page site of FANA and vice-versa. Thus every user of the home page can surf between the existing sites of both organizations with the possibility to reach the home page of each member of the two organizations.

SECOND: Joint Training Workshops:

The meeting studied the possibility of holding joint training workshops for personnel of news agencies, members of both organizations and the feasibility of organizing these courses. There was discussion of the report prepared by FANA 's Secretary General about this issue in addition to the offer presented by the Iranian News Agency's delegation about holding a second training workshop for technicians and engineers in Tehran to study the subject of linking agencies through the Internet, and the readiness of the Iranian News Agency to accept five technicians from Arab news agencies on this training workshop. The following recommendations were adopted:

2-1- Emphasizing the need to develop specialized personnel in the agencies of both Organizations through holding joint training workshops for those with experience and qualification ranging from three to five years of practical work.

2-2- Holding two training workshops, one for business news editors and the other for technicians and engineers working in the technical departments of news agencies. One of these workshops will be held in an Arab country and the other in an Asian country in 2002.

2-3- The number of participants from both parties should be equal and each party should bear the residence expenses of its candidates.

2-4- To demand from the secretary-generals of both organizations to get in touch with international organizations and authorities asking for their contribution in ensuring the success of the two workshops through commissioning experts and supervisors and provision of required equipment on the basis of proposals put forward in FANA's report on the subject.

2-5- To thank the Iranian News Agency for its offer to organize a second training course for technicians in Tehran during July or August next and its readiness to accept five technicians from Arab news agencies on this course, in addition to participants from OANA member agencies.

2-6- To request the Iranian News Agency to provide FANA with all details of the course, its date, the level of training and the subjects which will be studied on it in order to start nomination of candidates and providing their names to the Iranian Agency in the near future.

THIRD: Holding an International Symposium or Conference:

The delegates discussed the issue of holding an international conference to study subjects of interest to information media in the light of the continuing developments in the communications sphere. They heard to the explanations given by the Itar-Tass news agency delegation and took note of what the Itar-Tass director general said in his speech at the convention's inaugural session.

After due deliberation, the following recommendations were adopted:

3-1- Effective participation in the International Information Conference, which Itar-Tass news agency shall host by end of June 2001.

3-2- To thank Itar-Tass news agency for its appreciated initiative to hold this conference in Moscow.

3-3- Asking Itar-Tass news agency to provide participants in this meeting with all information it has on the subject of the above-mentioned conference.

FOURTH: Diffusion of news concerning the activities of both Organizations in other parts of the world:

The meeting studied ways and means for increasing the volume of news distributed by agency members of both organizations in other parts of the world, and discussed obstacles, which hinder the realization of this objective.

A proposal was put forward to nominate one of the member agencies to act as a pooling center for transmission of news and information via the Internet, satellites or rented linkage lines provided that consensus is reached as regards the common international language (English) for exchange of news between member agencies and the necessity to use IPTC Formatting as one single standard for exchange of news between member agencies.

After due deliberation, the following recommendations were adopted:

4-1- Referral of this proposal to the technical committees in both FANA and OANA for further study and presentation of their comprehensive report about the subject to the following FANA - OANA Convention.

4-2- To request OANA and FANA to prepare a feasibility study about disseminating news outside the regions covered by them and in particular to intellectuals, and information centers and media which are expected to receive and use news published by members of both organizations.

FIFTH: The future of national news agencies and the Internet:

The meeting heard with interest to the intervention delivered by UNESCO's Regional Adviser for the Arab States, Mr. Martin Hadlow, in which he gave details of a scientific symposium held in Amman on January 28-31, 2001 concerning the future of national news agencies and the Internet. He pointed out facts, which should to be studied in depth by the national news agencies in order to harmonize their efforts and make them compatible with developments taking place in the communication field, in particular the Internet.

After an exchange of views and discussion on recommendations about this issue, the meeting reached a consensus as regards the following recommendations:

5-1- To consider the report presented by UNESCO's Regional Adviser for the Arab States as a basis for taking developmental measures within each news agency members of OANA or FANA aiming to harmonize agencies' activities with developments taking place in the world.

5-2- To request Itar-Tass agency to include in the work agenda of the International Information Conference, which will be held in Moscow by end of June, 2001, an item "The national news agencies and the Internet" and their future in the present century.

5-3- To ask UNESCO to organize a second meeting about this subject to which will be invited a greater number of Organizations interested in the work of news agencies, in addition to representatives of main national news agencies operating in Asia and Latin America.

5-4- To convey the conference's thanks to UNESCO for its interest in following up subjects related to news agencies and to call on UNESCO to provide more material and technical assistance to them.

5-5- To request FANA and OANA to present a joint memorandum to UNESCO and other world Organizations asking them to provide member agencies of both Organizations with the potential means available to them which will benefit the agencies.

SIXTH: Forming the Follow-Up Committee:

The meeting studied the subject of forming a Follow-Up Committee to meet annually to review the implementation of the recommendations adopted in this meeting and to prepare for holding the General Conference of both organizations as agreed every three years.

After discussing this issue from all its aspects, the following decisions were taken:

6-1- Election of the Director-General of the Japanese Kyodo News Agency, the Director General of the Iranian News Agency, and OANA's Secretary-General members to the Follow-Up Committee representing the Asian side. The Director-General of Kuwait News Agency, the Director of Maghreb Arabe Presse and FANA's Secretary-General to be elected as members of the Follow-Up Committee representing the Arab side.

6-2- All recommendations and opinions studied by the Follow-Up Committee should be referred to the higher authorities in both Organizations for their study, ratification and effective implementation.

6-3- The Follow-Up Committee may, as it sees proper, seek to obtain the assistance of engineers and technicians when dealing with technical and technological issues relevant to the work of both Organizations.

SEVENTH: Thanks and Appreciation:

Members of the Executive Board of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) and members of the General Secretariat Board of the Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA), present their deep thanks and appreciation for H.E. Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Minister of Information of the State of Kuwait, for the care they awarded to this meeting.

They convey their deep gratitude to Mr. Muhammed Al-Ajeeri, Board Chairman and Director-General of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) for his excellent welcome and hospitality to the conference delegates and for the care he awarded to everyone. They present their thanks also to KUNA's staff, who worked in earnest diligence and distinguished responsibility toward the success of this meeting.