*Coming sessions to discuss human rights, counter-terrorism, education, development

The hosting of the 140th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Doha is a fitting response to the false accusations levelled against Qatar by the four blockading countries, HE the Speaker of the Advisory Council Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud said on Saturday.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, he stressed that contrary to the claims, the siege countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) had not submitted any objection at the 139th General Assembly of the IPU, held in Geneva in October last year, when a session was held to vote for approving Qatar as the host of the 140th IPU Assembly. In addition, the IPU has never issued any official statement indicating that the blockading countries had filed such an objection, and the records of the Union proved this. "These are available online for everybody to see."

He stressed that Qatar's hosting of the 140th IPU Assembly reflected the appreciation of the world for Qatar and its distinguished place among countries due to its peaceful and progressive policies under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The entire world has come to Doha for the event while the blockading countries have missed it.

HE al-Mahmoud continued: "The only country that objected to Qatar hosting the 140th IPU Assembly was Syria, citing the same usual false accusations against Doha, but the UK expressed its support. We have always told them: if you have any proof against Qatar supporting your claims, why don't you give them to the Amir of Kuwait and reveal them instead of making up baseless crises?"

HE the Speaker also said the fabrications of the blockading countries were a desperate attempt to use the IPU's platform to promote their political agenda against Qatar, highlighting that this was something the member countries were well aware of, QNA reported.

The press conference was held jointly with IPU president Gabriela Cuevas Barron and IPU secretary-general Martin Chungong.

Chungong agreed with the statement of HE al-Mahmoud, stressing that the vote for the 140th IPU Assembly host was held in a public, open session at the 139th General Assembly of the IPU meetings in Geneva last October and the records are available for public viewing on the IPU website.

Cuevas Barron pointed out that the IPU Assembly is an excellent opportunity to build bridges and open dialogue and discussions to resolve issues peacefully, and it is a big mistake to fail to participate in it. She expressed hope that the event would reflect positively on world peace and security through enhancing communication among the stakeholders.

Barron praised the unprecedented level of participation in the Doha event. She said 162 countries are taking part in the assembly with 30% of the delegates being women and 13% young people.

She said the emergency committees of the Assembly will discuss human rights violations and issues that constitute threats to the stability of the region .

Responding to a question on the Union's position with regard to the ban blockading countries have imposed on their parliamentarians , Cuevas Barron said the IPU is seeking to get all the region's parliamentary representatives to the negotiations table, QNA added.

On Palestine and Al Quds, the IPU president called for respecting human rights and international law, and to work towards a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Chungong, meanwhile, pointed out that the IPU Assembly focuses on the issue of education for peace and democracy, stressing that many crises could be attributed to the lack of education or its low quality. Accordingly, the event is working to come up with recommendations that support the achievement of sustainable development.

Besides, the meetings will tap the participation of the Under-secretary-general of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office to discuss the phenomenon of terrorism and extremism, with reference to what happened recently in New Zealand.

Related Story