TRIPOLI, November 18, 2008 -- Five North African countries plan to have a regional bank operational in 2009 in line with an International Monetary Fund recommendation, according to an action plan adopted in Tripoli on Tuesday.

The document calls for Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia to have a Maghreb bank of investments and commerce up and running next year.

It was adopted at a conference on economic cooperation held under the auspices of the IMF with the participation of finance ministers and central bank governors from the five states.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn called on Monday at the opening of the conference for efforts to set up a Maghreb bank to be speeded up as a means to promote joint projects.

The project itself dates back to 1991 and its status has been agreed upon.