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World Economic Forum Meets in Jordan


Government leaders, businessmen and civil society groups from 45 countries have gathered at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, for talks on economic and political reforms.

King Abdullah of Jordan opened the meeting on Friday, saying "positive change is in the air across the region." He said Arab countries should implement reforms for better governance, education and economic growth. But echoing statements by many other Arab leaders, King Abdullah also said that political reform in the Arab world should not be imposed from the outside but should develop at its own pace.

But some political analysts say any progress on political issues will be limited. Uraib El Rantawy, a political analyst based in Amman, says the meeting will push forward economic projects and reforms. But he says the main political issues in the Arab world-such as the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the state of Iraq and the issue of democratization will not be solved at the meeting.

"This forum is running on two tracks," said Uraib El Rantawy. "The economic one, which is going well and the political one which I think nobody expected the forum to reach a certain solution of those crises and conflicts, but at least it will provide better understanding between all the parties involved in these crises and conflicts."

The conference was attended by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and U.S. First Lady Laura Bush.

First Lady Laura Bush addresses World Economic Forum, Saturday
Mrs. Bush delivered a speech that focused on women's rights and opportunities for young people. This was the first stop of Mrs. Bush's goodwill trip through several Mideast countries. She is scheduled to visit Israel and Egypt next.