``Poverty needs a new international agenda to overcome it,'' Mubarak said, opening a one-day summit of a predominantly Islamic bloc of countries known as the D-8, or developing eight nations of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey.
``Although (poverty) is one of the oldest human phenomena, the developments of the past century, especially those of the last decades, have brought to it such levels that are hardly acceptable politically, economically and even morally,'' Mubarak said.
The Egyptian leader offered no new proposals, saying the remedies have been discussed again and again at international meetings. He cited last year's U.N. Millennium Summit, where world leaders pledged to reduce poverty by half by the year 2015.
``Unless these plans yield tangible results, then the credibility of the world community will lie in jeopardy,'' Mubarak said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, in a speech read during the summit, blamed Israel for lack of economic growth in the Middle East. ``The insecurity in the Middle East has had very negative effects on our economy,'' Kharrazi said. ``Not only the Palestinians, but other countries in this region have suffered from insecurity caused by the Israeli arms race. Buying arms in the Middle East is an impediment to economic growth.''
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who on Sunday handed over chairmanship of the D-8 to Mubarak, said poverty, illiteracy, disease, crime, and drugs were holding nations like hers back while rich nations benefitted from new technologies and an increasingly globalized economy.
``Though war and armed conflicts have ended in many parts of the world, the fight against poverty, hunger, malnutrition and disease is still continuing,'' Hasina said. ``As we face increasing marginalization in the world economy, our ability to tackle these challenges is getting increasingly weaker.''
The eight nations whose leaders are gathered in Cairo are home to some 800 million people, or about 13% of the world's population, but share among themselves only 4% of international trade.
All but Iran and Malaysia sent their heads of state to the one-day Cairo meeting; Iran and Malaysia were represented by lower-ranking officials. The leaders agreed to hold the next summit in 2003 in Indonesia.