VIENNA, Dec 6 (KUNA) -- The Arab group of states and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member states agreed to continue lobbying for a conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The conference presents a unique opportunity to lay the groundwork for new security arrangements for the Middle East that would strengthen nonproliferation and arms control measures, diplomats told KUNA here on Thursday.
During their meeting here yesterday, representatives of Arab and NAM countries agreed that the conference has to take place as soon as possible despite the US objection, the sources said.
Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Hesham Badr who represented the Arab countries at the meeting warned that failure to convene the planned conference would put in jeopardy the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and could impact negatively on the future NPT review conferences, they added.
Speaking on behalf of the NAM, Iran's permanent envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh urged coordination between the organizers of the conference and the UN secretary-general for seizing the opportunity of the conference to create a WMD-free Middle East.
The conference, originally planned to take place in Helsinki, capital of Finland, late this month as agreed by the 2010 NPT Review Conference, was called off by the United States on November 23. While announcing the cancellation of the conference, the US did not specify when or whether it would take place. (end) KUNA 062257 Dec 12NNNN