London touts Arab solutions

Nov. 17, 2011 at 2:00 PM   |   0 comments

LONDON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Political reform in the Middle East should be led by the Arab community and not driven by Western agendas, a British minister said.

London through a partnership program with the Arab community said it has committed more than $170 million during the next four years to regional development. Already, 48 projects in nine different countries were getting access to more than $10 million in British government funds.

British Middle East and North African Minister Alistair Burt told an Arab audience in London, however, the so-called Arab Spring was an opportunity for the region to display an independent agenda.

"It is not for us to dictate their pace or their nature," he said in his address. "How they develop will not be driven by Western agendas."

Elections in Tunisia, the first country to witness mass revolutions, were lauded as a success by members of the international community. Egypt, the second to undergo political upheaval, is scheduled for its first round of elections later this month.

"There's not one form of democracy that fits all," added Burt. "Every country is different and has the right to develop its own political model."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is said to have met with executives at Heritage Oil in March just as NATO forces started bombing Libyan targets. Heritage recently announced a $20 million deal to take over a Libyan oil services company based in the former rebel capital of Benghazi.

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