Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nations Call off Mideast Nuclear Talks; Arab Nations Had Agreed to Participate in Nonproliferation Meeting but Wouldnt Let Go of Anti- Israel Stances

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nations Call off Mideast Nuclear Talks; Arab Nations Had Agreed to Participate in Nonproliferation Meeting but Wouldnt Let Go of Anti- Israel Stances

Article excerpt

VIENNA Attempts to find Arab-Israeli common ground on banning weapons of mass destruction from the Mideast have failed, and high- profile talks on the issue have been called off, diplomats said Saturday.

The two diplomats said the United States, one of the organizers, would likely make a formal announcement soon saying that with tension in the region remaining high, the time is not opportune for such a gathering. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the cancellation ahead of the formal announcement.

The meeting to be held in Helsinki, Finland, by years end was on shaky ground since it was agreed to in 2010 by the 189 member nations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Its key sponsors were the U.S., Russia and Britain, but they said such as meeting was possible only if all countries especially Israel agreed to attend.

The decision to postpone, if not to scrap, the meeting will cast doubt on the significance of the treaty and its attempts every five years to advance nonproliferation. Any new attempt is unlikely until the nonproliferation conference meets again in 2015.

Hopes for such a meeting were alive as recently as Tuesday, when Iran joined Arab nations in saying that it planned to attend, leaving Israel as the only undecided country. Tehrans announcement came at a seminar in Brussels on a Mideast nuclear-free zone also attended by Israel and the Arab countries, and described as largely free of regional tension. But the two diplomats said the decision to call off the Helsinki meeting had already been made by the time Iran declared its intentions Tuesday .

But a decision to give up on such a gathering after it was approved by the treaty nations is more than a reflection of Mideast realities. It also is bound to weaken efforts at futureconferences to reconcile clashing visions of disarmament and nonproliferation efforts. …

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