ALGIERS: Arab leaders convened on Wednesday in Algeria for the second day of the 31st summit of the largest annual Arab conference, seeking common ground on several divisive issues in the region. The meeting comes against the backdrop of rising inflation, food and energy shortages, drought and soaring cost of living across the Middle East and Africa.

The kings, emirs, presidents and prime ministers are discussing thorny issues such as the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and four Arab countries as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right allies appears to be heading to an election victory.

The summit’s discussions are also focused on the food and energy crises aggravated by Russia’s war in Ukraine that has had devastating consequences for Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, among other Arab countries, struggling to import enough wheat and fuel to satisfy their populations.

Deepening the crisis is the worst drought in several decades that has ravaged swaths of Somalia, one of the Arab League’s newer members, bringing some areas of the country to the brink of famine.

Reduced grain supplies have also deepened hunger that grips Yemen, the Arab world’s most impoverished country, after eight years of civil war. According to United Nations estimates, half a million Yemen children are severely malnourished and more than two-thirds of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The war in Ukraine has also added to Yemen’s misery as the east European country supplied 40 percent of Yemen’s grain before Russia’s invasion.