Malaysia backs idea of forum for Mideast

Posted in Broader Middle East | 02-Feb-07 | Source: (Pakistan)

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf (L) and Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi speak at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur February 1, 2007.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has welcomed the idea of a Muslim grouping that would find ways to resolve the issues of Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, noting that international efforts to resolve the Middle East conflict have so far been unsuccessful.

“The issue in the Middle East is a very tough issue and not to be easily resolved,” said Mr Abdullah, the chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, at a joint news conference with President Pervez Musharraf here on Thursday.

“Violence seems to be escalating instead of stopping. It is my hope and his hope that we would be able to meet in a bigger group to examine further the causes and reasons for whatever that is associated with the Middle East situation,” he said, referring to Gen Musharraf.

“What brings me here is the extension of the process of consultation towards a new initiative by a group of like-minded Muslim countries towards resolution of disputes and bringing harmony into the Muslim world,” Gen Musharraf said.

“We hope to take this process forward towards some meaningful result,” he said.

President Musharraf acknowledged that his initiative was not guaranteed to succeed, but said there was no harm in trying as the situation was spiralling out of control.

“One can't certainly guarantee that we will succeed but at least it is worth a try in view of all the troubles we are facing around the world,” he said.

“Things are deteriorating. Through a new initiative we hope to turn this around. What we can try is to convert this downward slide toward an upward momentum, toward a resolution of disputes. There is no harm in trying,” he said.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the plan would not undermine the role of the OIC.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “It's a process of consultation, it should not undermine anybody.”

Mr Albar and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said the next step should be for the leaders of the nations involved to meet and decide on a plan of action.

“Until the leaders meet ... how can we think of the ingredients of that fresh initiative,” said Mr Kasuri.

“The president has something in his mind but it’s not appropriate for him to pre-empt what the others would say,” he said.

Gen Musharraf admitted that many had tried and failed to establish peace in the Middle East, but said this was no reason to give up.

President Musharraf returned to Islamabad on Thursday night after a two-day visit to Indonesia and Malaysia.—Agencies