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Arab leaders meet to tackle Middle East radicalism, unrest

Leaders of the Arab League are meeting to discuss measures to deal with growing radicalism in the region and unrest in Yemen. Yemen's President Mansour Hadi has accused Iran of supporting Houthi rebels.

Representatives of fourteen Arab countries met on Saturday in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss solutions for growing radicalism in the region and unrest in Yemen.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in his opening remarks spoke of the spread of violent militancy, calling it a "challenge to the identity of the Arab nation" that compromised national security.

Pan-Arab force proposed

El-Sissi reiterated his proposal of creating a pan-Arab force to tackle militancy in the Middle East. "This force will be a tool to face challenges that threaten Arab national security … The future of this nation hinges on the decisions we will take at this crucial juncture," El-Sissi told leaders gathered in the Egyptian town.

Leaders at Sharm el-Sheikh were also planning to discuss "Islamic State" militants who have expanded heavily into Iraq and Syria. Kuwait's Emir Sabah al-Ahmed demanded a "new course of action" to tackle regional problems. "The situation is getting more complicated," he added.

Syria did not have any representation at the summit this year after a 2011 Arab League decision to suspend Damascus' membership to protest President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on pro-democracy protestors.

'Peaceful solution' to Yemen conflict

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon referred to the Saudi Arabia-led military operation against Yemen's Houthi rebels and urged Arab leaders to

resolve the Yemen conflict peacefully

. "It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," Ban told guests at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi blamed Iran for unrest in his country, calling the Shiite Houthi rebels "Iran's puppet," and accusing them of destroying Yemen with their "political immaturity."

Tehran has denied all charges of intervening in Yemen, which has become politically volatile after rebels of the Shiite Houthi militia captured the capital Sanaa,

forcing President Hadi to flee to his supporters in the port city of Aden

.

mg/sb (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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