Arab nations rebuked US for its poicy on Israel

Arab nations yesterday rebuffed US calls for speedy democratic reforms, insisting that steps the US deems essential to stem terrorism be tied to a just and lasting peace in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Middle East.

While agreeing that political, social and economic liberalisation is desirable, senior Arab diplomats disagreed with outgoing US Secretary of State &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Colin Powell's argument that reforms could not be delayed for any reason.

Speaker after speaker at the "Forum for the Future" conference here said progress would be difficult, if not impossible, without a resolution to the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Arab-Israeli conflict and lambasted the perceived US bias toward Israel, informs Daily News.

"For too long, the Arabs have witnessed the Western bias toward Israel," Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told a U.S.-sponsored conference on political and economic reform.

The Bush administration contended countries could modernize and fight terrorism independently of whether there was progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.

But the issue came up in speech after speech.

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