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U.S.: Regional economy suits Mideast, N. Africa

The United States unveiled a four-point program on Sunday to draw Israel and its Arab adversaries into a system of regional economic cooperation.

The plan could lift the area from poverty and reinforce the spreading Arab-Israeli peace process, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said at an unprecedented Middle East-North Africa summit.

Christopher joined more than 2,100 political and business leaders from 60 countries at the opening of the three-day conference to discuss ways to develop the region's economic market with its 300-million consumers.

The four main points of the U.S. proposal would be to facilitate the movement of goods, labor and ideas across the region's borders; to set up a regional development bank; to establish a tourism board to make it easier for people to move across borders; and to establish a regional business council or chamber of commerce over the public and private sectors.

GAZA BORDER TO REOPEN: Israel will begin reopening Gaza Strip border crossings this week that were sealed following the deadly bombing of a Tel Aviv bus, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said. But he promised to do whatever is needed to stop violence by Palestinian militants.

Some 30,000 Palestinians who live in the PLO-run Gaza Strip have been unable to get to their jobs in Israel since the border closed.

The militant fundamentalist group Hamas, which opposes the peace process, claimed the Oct. 19 bus attack and the kidnapping earlier last month of an Israeli soldier killed during a rescue operation.