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Arab League Considers Reforms at Cairo Meeting


Arab League foreign minsters have begun talks in Cairo on proposed reforms in their often-divided organization.

Secretary-General Amr Moussa is asking the League to consider forming an Arab parliament, an Arab security council, a court of justice, and an investment bank.

There is also a proposal to change the league's voting system, in which decisions now are binding on members only if passed unanimously.

The Arab League groups 21 countries and the Palestinian Authority. Observers say disputes between the members have largely paralyzed its various bodies in recent years, and left it unable to forge a united stand on most issues.

The ministers will also discuss a paper submitted by Egypt and Saudi Arabia that calls on Arab countries to embrace change in their mostly authoritarian political systems.

The paper said Arab countries are ready to cooperate with countries that deal with them on a basis of equality, and do not try to impose specific models.

Those words appear to be a reference to an American plan to encouage democratic reform in the Arab world. U.S. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman is visiting several Arab countries this week to discuss the plan, known as the "Greater Middle East Initiative."

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria have already rejected the U.S. proposal, saying that reforms posed from the outside will not work.

The Egyptian-Saudi paper submitted to the Arab League makes no mention of elections or democracy.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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