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U.S.-Backed Arab Democracy Forum Ends In Discord

13 November 2005 -- A U.S.-sponsored forum on democracy in the Arab world has ended in discord.

"The New York Times" reported on 12 November that the meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Bahrain failed to agree on a final statement supporting democracy.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had hoped to get backing for up to $150 million in funds for democracy programs and economic aid in the Arab world.

But the "Times" said Egypt, insisting that only "legally registered" groups have access to the funds, blocked the proposal.

The paper also said some Arab leaders expressed concern that U.S. funds had helped support recent uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine.

Earlier, Rice had told the forum that Arab democracy can prosper only with the rule of law, free media, and civilian
control of the military.

(Reuters/AFP/AP/"The New York Times")