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Muslim states oppose use of force against Iran 26 février 2007

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Business Recorder

February 26, 2007 Monday

The foreign ministers of seven Muslim nations called Sunday for a diplomatic solution to the « dangerous » stand off over Iran’s nuclear programme and otherr tensions in the Middle East. The ministers issued a joint statement after they met in Islamabad to discuss the problems in the region amid mounting speculation about a possible US attack on Iran.

The one-day conference grouped the foreign ministers of Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, plus the secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

« The ministers viewed with deep concern the dangerous escalation of tension, especially over the Iranian nuclear issue, » said the statement, read at a news conference by Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.

« It is vital that all issues must be resolved through diplomacy and there must be no resort to use of force, » it added.

« There is need for de-escalation instead of aggravation and confrontation in the Gulf region. All countries must work towards that objective. »

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said in his opening speech to the meeting that it was « imperative that the use of force is avoided » in dealing with the nuclear aims of Iran, Pakistan’s southwestern neighbour.

« We simply cannot afford another conflict, which will not remain confined to the region and can have very serious consequences for all of us, » Aziz said.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has emphasised that durable peace in Middle East demands an honourable solution of Palestinian issue based on justice, equity and realism in line with the wishes of the Palestinian people.

He expressed the confidence that establishment of national unity government will help progress towards setting up of a sovereign and viable state of Palestine.

The Prime Minister stressed that the Ummah needs to adopt a holistic approach to meet the challenges within the Ummah as well as the external factors confronting the Islamic world.

Referring to Iraq conflict, Shaukat Aziz said Iraqi people must be enabled to decide their own future.

He also called for collective efforts to preserve peace, integrity, sovereignty and security in Lebanon. The Prime Minister said tension over Golan Heights should be resolved through negotiations among all concerned parties.

About Iranian nuclear issue, he said it should be solved through negotiations using diplomatic channels. He urged that the use of force should be avoided.

The Prime Minister said a joint strategy is needed to fight radicalism and extremism. Islamic world needs to make efforts to bridge the gap between Islam and the West.

Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority did not attend the conference, but the government said Kasuri spoke to his Iranian and Syrian counterparts earlier in the weekend.

M Rafiq Goraya adds: As a result of the visits by President Musharraf to various Muslim countries recently, foreign ministers of Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan, and the OIC Secretary-General met here to prepare agenda for the Summit meeting in Makkah.

Leaders of these countries have asked the foreign ministers to explore new approaches and ideas to address the situation in Middle East, internal and external challenges confronting the Muslim world, and the promotion of unity, solidarity and harmony among the Muslim countries.

Later, addressing a news conference, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri said that « the ideas of these seven like-minded foreign ministers will be presented to the leaders for consideration and decision at a summit in Saudi Arabia, the date of which has not yet been finalised ».

He said that President Musharraf, during his visits, had consultations with the leaders of the Muslim countries about the grave situation in the Middle East and the danger of further escalation, which could have most serious consequences for the entire region, the Muslim world, and globally.

He said that concerns over this situation were shared by all leaders who felt that there was need for a strong, new initiative to reverse the negative trends and to address the issues and challenges.

During discussions with Musharraf in Riyadh, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz had offered to host a summit to promote such an endeavour.

Kasuri said that during the Sunday meeting the foreign ministers reiterated the view that the Palestine question was the central and core problem in the Middle East and must be resolved without delay, on the basis of United Nations resolutions, the Arab peace initiative and other initiatives all of which recognised the need for establishment of a Palestine state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Ministers expressed concern over the continuing occupation and illegal actions of Israel including the latest violation against Al-Aqsa Mosque. They called for unity among the Palestinians and welcomed the establishment of the Palestinian National Unity government following Makkah agreement through the efforts of King Abdullah.

They also commended the continuing effort of King Abdullah and Egypt in this respect. The Ministers agreed that international community must immediately help the Palestinian National Unity government to revive economic activity in the Palestinian territories. They also called for resumption of the peace process.

The Ministers also called for withdrawal by Israel from the occupied Syrian and Lebanese territories. The Ministers expressed concern over tensions within Lebanon, and called upon all parties to exercise restraint, and demanded that all States must respect Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence and must contribute to promoting its international cohesion. They supported the government and deployment of Lebanese army throughout its territory.

The Ministers agreed that conflict and violence in Iraq is a source of deep distress and anxiety to all Muslims and said that while it must be ensured that unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq is preserved and respected, the government of Iraq must make all efforts to achieve national reconciliation within the country.

The ministers expressed their strong commitment to fight all forms of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism. They also expressed deep concern over campaigns to malign the noble faith of Islam, and demanded that such acts and trends must be effectively dealt with and defeated.

The ministers decided to continue their deliberations on ideas and plans to be presented to the leaders for decision at the forthcoming summit. Kasuri said it was not yet known how many countries would be attending the Makkah Summit on the Middle East crises, but the seven ‘like-minded’ countries « are in touch with Iran and Syria ».

He said that one of the factors that had motivated President Musharraf to embark on his mission was the recent horrendous sectarianism in Iraq, which if not stopped could spill over to other Muslim countries.

He said that Iraqis are killing Iraqis; Palestinians were killing Palestinians and the internal situation in Lebanon was deteriorating. « Pakistan could not remain a silent spectator; therefore, it took the initiative to save the Muslim world from destruction, » he added.

He said that once the Muslim countries reached a consensus, and evolved its initiative for peace in the Middle East, talks would be held with the United States, the European Union, China, Russia and Japan, for its implementation.

Copyright 2007 PPI (Pakistan Press International)

Middle East situation demands solidarity among Muslim States Shaukat

Business Recorder, February 26, 2007 Monday

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Sunday emphasised the need to adopt a holistic approach to meet the challenges within the Muslim Ummah as well as the external factors that confront the Islamic World.

He was talking to OIC Secretary General Professor Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu and the OIC foreign ministers who called on him here at Prime Minister House. Shaukat Aziz said the deteriorating security situation in Middle East demands solidarity among Muslim states and a fresh initiative is needed to solve the festering disputes.

The Prime Minister said unanimity of views among Islamic World would help in the early resolution of disputes in the Middle East. He said the initiative taken by President General Pervez Musharraf and Sunday’s conference would lay the foundation for strengthening of peace process in the Middle East.

He said it is the first step towards a long journey for the solution of conflicts in the Middle East adding that « We are encouraged by the fact the His Majesty King Abdullah has agreed to convene a summit meeting of a core group of Muslim countries. »

The Prime Minister emphasised the need to solve the longstanding issues through dialogue and understanding as the present situation could have disastrous consequences for the region and the world.

He said efforts should be made to fight terrorism and extremism and to promote harmony among different cultures, faiths and civilisations. The OIC foreign ministers and OIC secretary general discussed situation in the Middle East with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

They welcomed and supported the initiative taken by President General Pervez Musharraf for the solution of issues in the Middle East and said the initiative will strengthen the Middle East peace process and will lay the foundation of durable peace there.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkey Abdullah Gul, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Saud Al Faisal, Foreign Minister of Egypt Ahmed Abdul Gheti, Foreign Minister of Malaysia Dato Syed Hamid Al-Bar, Foreign Minister of Indonesia Dr N. Hassan Wirajuda, Foreign Minister of Jordan Abdul Elah Al Khateeb.

From the Pakistan side, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Muhammad Ali Durrani, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Tariq Azeem, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Commander Khalil ur Rehman and senior officials attended the meeting.

Copyright 2007 APP (Associated Press of Pakistan)

Meeting not meant to form Sunni alliance: Erdogan

Dawn (Pakistan), February 26, 2007

A string of meetings in Islamabad on Sunday, featuring leaders of key Muslim nations, were not aimed at forging an alliance against Iran, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

At the meetings, foreign ministers from seven Muslim nations discussed how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bring peace to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Media reports in the Arab world suggested, however, that President General Pervez Musharraf aims to establish a Sunni alliance to confront rising influence of Iran in the region.“This is not designed to isolate any country,” Mr Erdogan told the Qatari-based Al Jazeera television network. “It should not be taken from this (point of view),” he said in the interview recorded in Istanbul. The foreign ministers belonging to Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia laid the groundwork for a summit of Muslim leaders at an unspecified date in Makkah.

The goal of the summit is “a new initiative to address the grave situation in the Middle East, in particular the Palestinian issue, and for harmony in the Islamic world,” the Pakistani foreign minister has said in a statement.

General Musharraf visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Iran in recent weeks to seek common ground for his initiative.

He did not invite Iran or Syria for the meeting in Islamabad on Sunday.

Mr Erdogan said Iran and Syria would be invited in a later stage.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslan denied the conference was aimed at forming a Sunni alliance.

“It is not for Sunni countries, they are Islamic countries,” she told Al Jazeera, according to its Arabic translation of her comments broadcast on Saturday by the channel on another show.

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