Spanish PM calls for 'Marshall Plan' for Arab states

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Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero urged world powers Tuesday to create a "Marshall Plan" to help Arab states moving towards democracy.

Uprisings against authoritarian Arab regimes are spreading across the Middle East and North Africa, toppling iron-fisted rulers in Tunisia and Egypt and now threatening Libya's Moamer Kadhafi.

"We need to wait and see what capacity for recovery countries like Tunisia have," Zapatero said in an interview in Qatar with Al Jazeera television during a tour of the region.

"We need to monitor political stability there and we need to wait for their economies to begin functioning again," he said in the interview that was partially replayed on Al Jazeera's website.

"Change in North Africa and across the Arab world should force the international community to begin an operation of financial support, to develop a Marshall Plan for these nations," he said.

The United States launched the Marshall Plan in 1947 to rebuild western Europe following World War II.

Named after its architect, US secretary of state George Marshall, it was officially called the European Recovery Program and it operated until December 1951.

Zapatero goes to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday before heading to Tunisia where he will be the first Western leader to visit since the ouster of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

© 2011 AFP

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