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Briefly

- - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

EGYPT

Arab leaders pledge to revamp economies

CAIRO | Arab leaders are pledging $2 billion to revamp the faltering economies across the region amid fears of protests over high unemployment, rising prices and rampant corruption, such as those that just brought down Tunisia's government.

The pledge was made in a document obtained by the Associated Press and expected to be adopted by the economic summit opening Wednesday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik.

This is "a commitment to provide job opportunities for Arab young people in order to empower them to participate fully in their societies," stated the document labeled as the summit's final statement.

Arab diplomats said oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have promised to pay $500 million each while the remainder will come from 11 other member states.

LIBYA

News agency makes rare criticism of army

RABAT, Morocco | A Libyan news agency that has links to a son of leader Moammar Gadhafi has accused some military officers of corruption and demanded that civilians lead the Defense Ministry - a rare criticism of the country's army.

In an article by its political editor, Libya Press, part of the Al Ghad media group founded by reform-minded Saif al-Islam, said the 130,000-strong army is bloated and inefficient.

"The armed forces have taken over thousands of acres of land that were needlessly transformed into camps and barracks and later became sources of wealth for many," Libya Press said.

"They [unidentified officers] have dealt in the assets and in the land and opened new paths ... for corruption, which the national army should have kept away from," it said.

ISRAEL

Palestinian killed along Gaza border

JERUSALEM | Israeli forces killed a Palestinian on the Gaza border Tuesday after militants set off a bomb, officials from both sides said, the latest violence that some fear could escalate into a large-scale confrontation.

The military said Palestinians detonated an explosive device near troops who were on a routine patrol of the border with Gaza. Soldiers later saw militants handling explosives and opened fire.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said a Palestinian was killed and two others were wounded by Israeli tank fire.

Last week, the Islamic Hamas rulers of Gaza urged other armed groups there to refrain from attacking Israel. It warned that continued violence could draw Israeli retaliation and threaten an unwritten two-year-old cease-fire. That followed a bruising three-week Israeli invasion to stop daily rocket barrages from Gaza.

Despite the Hamas appeal, militants fired five mortar shells at southern Israel on Tuesday. The shells exploded in open areas and caused no injuries or damage, the Israeli military said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports