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Straw links Israel's nuclear arms with Iran

24-11-2005

London, IRNA - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has suggested that one of the needs to put pressure on Iran to prevent it developing a nuclear capability was because Israel would never decommission its nuclear arms.

The reverse argument was made by the Foreign Secretary at a meeting this week with Muslim leaders, according to sources close to the talks.

"No one in the Middle East should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, otherwise Israel would not give up its arsenal," Straw was quoted saying.

Muslim working groups, set up by the government in the aftermath of July's London bombing, held talks Tuesday to challenge the Foreign Secretary to address some of the excesses and imbalances in Britain's foreign policies.

At the meeting, Straw further clarified that there was also no intention of attacking Iran over the dispute with its nuclear programme. Previously he has repeatedly said any attack was "inconceivable."

The working groups called for the meeting with Straw to express their deep satisfaction at the government's selective response to recommendations made in their final report on preventing extremism, which has been blamed for the London bombings.

Their report identified British foreign policy, and especially towards to Middle East as a "key" contributory factory, warning that it "cannot be left unconsidered as a factor in the motivations of criminal extremists."

Following the meeting, which also discussed issues like occupied Palestine, Iraq and Kashmir, Straw said he was pleased to have the opportunity to meet leaders of the working groups.

"We had an in-depth and productive discussion about foreign policy. I listened to their concerns about some foreign policy issues and I explained the Government's thinking behind these," he said.

But the Foreign Secretary admitted that there was "always going to be differences of opinion over important foreign policy issues."

"This is natural but I hope that through open and frank dialogue we can better understand each other's point of view and the complexities of the issues," he said, while calling for a "step change in our existing programme of dialogue with British Muslims."

Inayat Bunglawala, Convenor of the Extremism and Radicalisation Working Group, also said there was "clearly some foreign policy issues on which we will continue to disagree with the government."

"We want to encourage the government and the Muslim community to try and resolve differences over foreign policy through engagement," Bunglawala said.
HC

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