Arab countries to intensify military, security and nuclear cooperation

Arab countries should forge closer military and security ties, including nuclear cooperation, according to a document to be discussed at this week's Arab summit here.

It was not immediately clear whether the proposal drawn up by Egypt aims at establishing a formal military pact for the Arab League's 22 member nations.

The document says the countries should set up a "new and effective pact for Arab national security."

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Monday that "Arab national security" will top on the agenda of the summit, which begins Wednesday in Riyadh.

Al-Faisal said Arabs want to have their own "mechanism" to resolve regional conflicts such as Iraq and Darfur. "Experience has shown that Arabs can solve their problems without foreign intervention," he added.

The Egyptian document said "there is a great need to adopt a comprehensive concept for Arab security in view of the multiple dangers and threats."

It adds the Arab League should prepare plans for "providing defense and security requirements for both supplies and training."

It also urges "a comprehensive review of the nuclear issues in the region" and says member countries should develop their own nuclear strategies. In the past year, several Arab states have expressed interest in developing peaceful exploitation of nuclear power, the AP wrote.

At the Arab summit in Khartoum last year, national leaders decided to set up an Arab peace and security council. But so far only four countries have endorsed the agreement, which requires seven members to become active.

In 1950, Arab leaders created the Arab Joint Defense Treaty as part of their efforts to challenge the newly established Israel. The treaty was invoked during the Middle East wars of 1967 and 1973.

If approved, the Egyptian-proposed pact would replace the 1950 treaty.

The six Arab states of the Gulf already have a military agreement and have set up the Gulf Shield Defense Force.

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