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. Summit of large Muslim countries skirts Iran's nuclear issue
NUSA DUA, Indonesia, May 13 (AFP) May 13, 2006
A summit of eight large Muslim countries largely skirted a diplomatic nuclear crisis engulfing its member Iran Saturday but agreed that members should cooperate to develop atomic energy.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was asked at the end of the one-day Developing 8 (D-8) summit that he hosted whether international reaction to Iran's nuclear ambitions was about anti-Islamism.

"We did not discuss specifically on Iran, so there is no statement formally or informally to connect the Iranian nuclear issue with Islamophobia," he told a press briefing.

"We strictly looked at it as a problem of communication and cooperation between Iran and IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency)," he said.

"I appealed to His Excellency, Iranian President Ahmadinejad to continue cooperation between Iran and the IAEA to find a peaceful and just solution," he added without elaborating.

Western nations have been seeking to halt Iran's nuclear enrichment program, fearful it is using it as a cover to develop an atomic bomb, but Iran insists it is only pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

A declaration from the D-8 did not mention Iran's nuclear issue but instead affirmed member commitment "to develop alternative and renewable energy resources, among others biofuel, biomass, hydro, solar, wind and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

D-8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The forum focuses on commercial and economic cooperation among member states, including in the areas of science, industry and investment.

In keeping with its focus on trade, the group said in its declaration that it gave "full support" to the speedy accession of Iran to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

It also called on WTO members to "accelerate the application and accession process of all developing countries based on non-discriminatory principles."

The wide-ranging declaration also saw the eight nations "express our concern over the crisis following the publication of insulting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed which has deeply offended Muslim populations worldwide."

The publication of the cartoons, initially by a Danish newspaper last year, set off a wave of worldwide violence and triggered an outpouring of Muslim anger against the West.

The summit opened with both the Indonesian and Iranian leaders calling for unity and greater cooperation among their members.

President Yudhoyono urged the D-8 to promote dialogue among civilisations.

"We must be able to embrace modernity by becoming forward-looking, by becoming knowledge-driven, by advancing a culture of excellence," Yudhoyono said.

Iran's usually firebrand leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, handing over the grouping's chairmanship to Yudhoyono, did not mention his country's nuclear ambitions as he urged the D-8 to work together for the welfare of the Islamic world and the entire world community.

"We are all members of the Muslim ummah (community) and the human society as a whole and thus have shared interests and concerns," he said.

Greater cooperation "will bring about greater strength, dignity and progress to the Muslim ummah ... which can be used in the service of international peace and security and also the welfare of the entire international community," he said.

The D-8 held its first summit in 1997 and last met in Tehran in February 2004. The eight nations have a population of about 500 million people combined.

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