A meeting of Arab legislators has opened in Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, with calls for Arab unity and support for Iraq.  Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Irbil.

Delegates opened the three-day Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union conference Tuesday with calls for Arab and Muslim solidarity in dealing with the many problems facing the Arab world.

The list of their chief concerns included foreign interference, terrorism, poor economies and inflation.

Nuraddin Bushkoch is secretary general of the Union.

He says the Arab countries need to work together and to raise their cooperation to the same level as the dangers they are facing.  He says it will protect their sovereignty, civilization and natural resources.

Delegates stressed more support was needed for the Palestinians after recent Israeli attacks.

The Syrian delegate, Salim Abud, said the United States should end what he called the occupation of Iraq and interference in the region. 

He says the Arabs need to oppose American and Israel plans for a new Middle East.  He says the United States is attacking Arab history, politics and geography. 

Delegates also expressed concern about the situations in Lebanon, the Sudan, and Somalia.

They said they hoped Iraq would find peace and regain its rightful place as a beacon in the Arab world.

It was the first time the Arab conference was held in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. The president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, thanked the delegates for choosing Iraq.

He says he respects the great step the Union made when it decided to hold the conference in Iraq.  He says he hopes the meeting will lead to a higher level of cooperation between Iraq and Arab countries and their people.

Libya refused to take part in the conference in protest to the U.S.-led military presence in Iraq.