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Tunis World Summit ‘in great danger’

PrepCom president urges world’s governments to pull fingers out

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The first ever World Summit on the Internet is "in great danger", according to the president of its preparatory committees, unless governments pull out all stops in the next two days.

Janis Karklins, who is also Latvia’s ambassador to the United Nations, convened a special meeting of world governments in Geneva at 3pm today to deliver the blunt message.

"There is progress, but it is slow," he warned. "We have only two-and-a-half working days left but so far we have negotiated only 15 to 20 per cent of the overall text." The conference at the Palais des Nations has been running for nearly eight days now and has been bogged down by lengthy negotiation.

Karklins squashed rumours that there may be a fourth conference just prior to the World Summit in November, stating: "The rumours of a possible new PrepCom are simply false; there will not be any more apart from this one."

That much was confirmed by the Tunisian Ambassador, whose country is hosting the summit. He explained simply: "Tunisia is not willing to host or organise any other PrepComs."

With the ball now squarely in the government’s court, Karklins urged delegates to use "all your skills and knowledge to search for compromise and solutions". "The art of diplomacy," he went on, "lies not only in the ability to defend national positions but in defending national positions to find solution and compromise."

The pace of work, he said, would have to dramatically increase and the ongoing semantic arguments over which precise word is better than another end immediately.

This view was supported by Tunisia, Bangladesh, Russia and Switzerland - with the Swiss urging people not to reopen previously agreed texts. And with the president again urging all those in the room to consider the very tight timeframe for agreement, the special meetings was ended.

Whether it has the desired impact should be seen tonight when freshly negotiated text is released for three hours of further discussion at 6pm tonight. ®

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