Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir said on Tuesday the deal would be submitted to the summit of Arab leaders slated to be held in Tunisia at the end of March.

During a press conference with Arab League chief Amr Musa in Cairo, Mahir said the details of the deal would not be made public before the meeting in Tunis.

But he said the accord represented a "comprehensive project that covers all aspects of reform".

Economic reforms

For his part, Musa said: "We have made good progress," explaining the deal was a synthesis of various proposals put forward".

However, he cautioned that genuine reform of the Arab League would still take "one or two years, perhaps three".

Amr Musa says it will take years
for the Arab League to reform

An Arab League official said earlier the summit would probably launch economic reforms, such as forming an Arab economic bloc, as well as approve a mechanism for carrying out league decisions.

He added that plans to create a court of justice, a parliament, an Arab development bank and a cultural council would be postponed until some later date.

'Talking shop'

Arab diplomatic sources said outstanding issues would be postponed until the Arab Summit of 2005, which is scheduled for Algiers.

The Arab League has often been accused of being a "talking shop", and of failing to stand up for Iraq and the Palestinians.

Set up in 1945, the Arab League groups 21 countries and the Palestinian Authority.

Differences among its members, displayed openly at its last summit in March 2003 just before the US led the war against Iraq, have largely paralysed its various bodies.