BEIRUT

Regional

Arab and LatAm leaders agree to investment bank

Morocco's State Minister Abdellah Baha, Qatar's Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid Al-Attyah Mohammad, Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr and League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil El Araby (bottom) pose for the family picture of Latin American and Arab heads of states summit in Lima, October 2, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Luis Baca

LIMA: Latin American and Arab leaders agreed to form a joint investment bank during a summit in Peru at which they also discussed the increasingly bloody civil war in Syria.

At the end of the two-day meeting on Tuesday, the heads of state announced the investment bank would integrate national banks and could finance common projects between the Union of South American Nations and the Arab League.

The third summit of South American and Arab countries (ASPA) -- representing some 32 countries -- was intended to focus on economic and political cooperation.

But the bloodshed in Syria dominated much of the discussion, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi urged the two blocs to work together to resolve the crisis.

"Syria is going through an asphyxiating crisis, and regrettably no initiative to find a solution has been successful so far," he said.

Syria's 18-month conflict that has claimed some 30,000 lives.

"We have to reach a resolution as quickly as possible," Arabi added.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, however, did not mention Syria in his closing remarks, saying only that the two regional blocs "share the same problems and the same expectations."

The leaders' final statement on Tuesday was similarly vague: they said they had "had a general debate on the most urgent issues on the national agenda and have exchanged points of view on the political, economic, and social situation in the world," without providing more details.

The statement did specifically support "the Palestinian people's right to independence and sovereignty and to live within recognized and sovereign borders."

Originally planned for February 2011, this third ASPA summit -- after the 2005 meeting in Brasilia and the 2009 one in Doha -- was delayed because of the Arab Spring protests.

 

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