UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday called on Arab leaders meeting for the last day of an Arab League summit in Algiers to step up democratic reform in the region, saying it was the best means "to solve problems, promote peace, nurture developments".

Annan's speech was followed by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi's speech, which tackled such issues as terrorism, Palestine, democracy and the Syrian presence in Lebanon.

Al-Qadhafi criticised the world pressure on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, saying Damascus should be rewarded for maintaining stability there.

Syrian sacrifice

"Syria should be rewarded because it sacrificed for the sake of civil peace in Lebanon," al-Qadhafi said.

Al-Qadhafi: Syrian pullout from
Lebanon might worsen matters

He warned of a worsening of situation in Lebanon after Syria's withdrawal and said that for Lebanon, the Syrian presence would be better than a Western one.

Al-Qadhafi also criticised UN Security Council resolutions, which he said were mandatory only for Arabs. "Why don't they ever ask Israel to respect United Nations resolutions?" he said.

Israel has not carried out Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, concerning a withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 and the return of Palestinian refugees.

Single state?

Al-Qadhafi said he would not recognise Israel and the future Palestinian state, favouring instead the establishment of one democratic state for both peoples after allowing the return of Palestinian refugees and after Israel gives up its weapons of mass destruction.

Al-Qadhafi described Israelis and Palestinians as "idiots" - Israelis for neglecting the West Bank for 20 years and the Palestinians for never thinking to establish a state there.

His comments drew laughs from the leaders, including Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

Best democracies

Arab leaders heard appeals for
hastening democratic reforms

Al-Qadhafi said the best democracies were in Asia and Africa, where people could remove their governments, giving the examples of Georgia and Ukraine.

He said that although people in the West protested against the war on Iraq and, just two days ago, rallied against the occupation of Iraq, nobody paid attention to their demands because their leaders did not believe in what they demanded.

The two-day Arab summit will end on Wednesday after the third and final closed-door session to endorse articles on the final draft communique.

It will be followed by an open session in which the final statement will be read out to the audience.