Arab leaders throw out a lifeline to Gaza

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz pledged a donation of 1 billion dollars to help Gaza reconstruct from its ruins at a two-day economic summit of regional Arab leaders which opened in Kuwait on Monday.


AFP - Arab leaders opened an economic summit in Kuwait on Monday amid sharp differences over Israel's deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip and ways to deal with the regional fallout of the 22-day war.

Seventeen Arab heads of state are attending the two-day summit while another five countries are represented at senior official level.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz announced the donation of one billion dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza battered by a deadly Israeli offensive.

"On behalf of the Saudi people, I declare the donation of one billion dollars for programmes to rebuild Gaza," the Saudi monarch said at the opening session of an Arab summit in Kuwait.

The Arab leaders are tipped to approve the setting up of a two-billion dollar fund for the reconstruction of Gaza.

Qatar last week suggested the establishment of a fund for Gaza and donated 250 million dollars.

The war ended on Sunday with parallel unilateral ceasefire declarations by Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement which controls the impoversished coastal strip.

The summit is also expected to approve a number of resolutions to accelerate Arab economic integration, including the launch of an Arab customs union in 2010 and power grid and railway projects.

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