At Arab League Summit, UN chief urges leaders to shape "a new Arab world"

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Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Summit of the League of Arab States in Jordan. Photo: UN News

Leaders in the Arab world have been urged to resolve their differences through dialogue and cooperation.

The appeal was made by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in an address on Wednesday to the Arab League Summit taking place at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

Dianne Penn reports.

The Secretary-General told leaders "At this time of transition and upheaval, unity is crucial."

Mr Guterres said divisions among them had opened the door to foreign intervention and manipulation, which has bred instability, sectarian strife and terrorism.

He appealed to them to shape "a new Arab world" that by itself would address and solve differences through dialogue and cooperation.

The UN chief also touched on misconceptions about Islam.

He said too many people have equated what he described as "the despicable acts" of groups such as Daesh or Al-Qaeda as being driven by Islam when they defy the faith.

Mr Guterres said his experience as a former UN High Commissioner for Refugees showed him the true nature of the religion, with Arab countries taking in scores of people fleeing violence and persecution.

He said refugee protection is "deeply rooted" in Islam, and he quoted a passage from the Koran about providing protection to those not of the faith.

The Secretary-General added that he was heartbroken to see developed countries closing their borders to refugees from the region, sometimes invoking religion as the reason.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’20″

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