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. Malaysia tells US not to push Iran to the wall
WASHINGTON (AFP) Sep 27, 2005
Malaysia, which chairs the world's biggest grouping of Muslim countries, urged the United States Monday to be patient in dealing with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

"Let us not put Iran to the wall. If you put Iran to the wall, we do not know what would be the effect," Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said when answering a question at a US-Malaysia forum in Washington.

He said the world would not want the Iranian nuclear issue to blow up into a Iraq-like conflict.

"We have seen too much difficulty" with the US-led war in Iraq and "we do not want to see another situation where we are confronted with an open conflict which is difficult to manage subsequently," Syed Hamid said.

Malaysia is the current chair of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors on Saturday adopted a resolution that threatens to take Iran before the United Nations Security Council for violations of international non-proliferation rules.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful but the United States claims it hides a covert weapons program.

Furious over the resolution, Iran has threatened to cease application of a protocol allowing tougher nuclear inspections if the UN nuclear agency insisted on reporting Iran to the Security Council.

Syed Hamid said that in dealing with Iran, the United States should emulate the negotiation style used at attempting to end North Korea's nuclear weapons drive.

Earlier this month, North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons network in return for security guarantees and energy aid following protracted talks, which also involved the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

"It is better that Iran be engaged in negotiations. I know the frustration of negotiations and dialogue," Syed Hamid said, citing the six-party Korean nuclear talks "that took so long but have been put on track.

"Why can't we do the same thing in this particular case," he asked.

Syed Hamid said Malaysia supported disarmament and non-proliferation and had conveyed to Iran that "they must come out very clean and open in negotiations" over its nuclear program.

"We should remain engaged," he said.

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