Washington: Hillary Clinton praised Arab youth for rising up against "false narratives" that she said had choked political and economic reform for generations.

She was addressing an audience that included representatives of more than 30 Muslim nations on the opening day of the US-Islamic World Forum being held in Washington on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for Arab leaders to embrace a "spirit of reform" that has swept the region and move swiftly to respond to the growing demands of their citizens.

"All the signs of progress we have seen in recent months will only be meaningful if more leaders in more places move faster and further to embrace this spirit of reform," she said.

The top US diplomat said in the wake of historic unrest in the region that "for the first time in decades there is a real opportunity for change." Arab youth, she added, will no longer "accept the status quo" and "know a better life is within reach and they are willing to reach for it."

Officials from Muslim majority nations including Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are in Washington for the annual meeting, which aims to build greater understanding between the United States and Muslim countries.