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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:46, May 31, 2006
Arab League chief calls for nuclear-free Middle East
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Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Amr Mahmoud Moussa on Tuesday called for a nuclear-free Middle East.

"The goal of us is to establish a zone free from nuclear weapons in the Middle East," Moussa said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua here Tuesday evening.

"It is not a nuclear issue of Iran but a nuclear issue of the Middle East," Moussa said when asked to comment on the Iran nuclear issue.

Moussa arrived here on Tuesday morning for the foreign ministers' meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum slated for Wednesday and Thursday.

The Iran nuclear issue is expected to be on the agenda of the meeting, according to sources with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Moussa said the nuclear situation in the Middle East involves every country in the region and there is a problem of proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Earlier this month, the Gulf Cooperation Council said it would send a delegation to Teheran to press Iran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao reiterated on Tuesday that China supports the peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through diplomacy and negotiations.

"As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran enjoys the right to peaceful use of nuclear power," Liu said. "But it should also fulfil its corresponding responsibility and commitment."

"It is urgently needed that Iran should fully cooperate with the IAEA and regain the confidence of the international community in its nuclear program," Liu said.

China spoke highly of a package of incentives raised by France, Germany and Britain, said Liu.

Also on Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was reported as saying that his country was ready to restart negotiations "without preconditions" with Germany, France and Britain on its nuclear program.

Mottaki said this in Malaysia where he attended a two-day foreign ministers meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement that ended on Tuesday.

Moussa said China has always supported the just causes and legitimate rights of Arab States.

The Arab League has consulted and will continue consultations with China on issues of Sudan, Iraq and Palestine to seek more effective solutions, he said.

As for the Middle East peace process, Moussa said, the policy to isolate Hamas, which came into power through democratic elections, will only impel Israel against Palestine.

"The best thing is to engage Hamas rather than to isolate them, " he added.

The European Union and the United States have cut off aid to the Palestinian National Authority since the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) formed a government in late March.

China has called on Hamas to take into consideration the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people, and to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previously reached Palestinian-Israeli agreements.

Moussa said the Arab League has urged and will continue to urge the new Palestinian government to recognize the Arab peace initiative, which calls for negotiations, return of Palestinian territories, establishment of a Palestinian state and normalization of ties with Israel.

"The only way" for this government is to move on and to recognize the initiatives, he said, adding, "This is the only thing we want from them."

The initiative, adopted at an Arab summit in Beirut in March 2002, says that Arab countries will normalize relations with Israel if the Jewish state withdraws from Arab territories taken in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and an independent Palestinian state is established with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Moussa said the Arab League members are working on the process of Iraq's reconciliation.

Calling the relations between the components of the Iraqi people a major problem in the country, Moussa said the Arab League is now working hard to support and sustain the process of reconciliation among the Iraqi people.

"The time for reconciliation has come," Moussa said. "All citizens of Iraq have to work for a new Iraq together."

Moussa hailed the inauguration of the new Iraqi government as "a step on the right path" toward restoring security and stability in the country.

He said the Arab League had hold a meeting on reconciliation in Iraq on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Middle East held in Egypt last week.

The meeting between the Arab League and Iraq will continue in November, Moussa said, adding that pushing forward the progress of Iraqi reconciliation is a "main duty and responsibility" of the Arab League.

Source: Xinhua

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