Military strike on Iran would be catastrophic: Pakistan PM

Date: 05-18-07

AMMAN (AFP) - Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that a military strike on Iran over its nuclear activities would be "catastrophic" and hoped US-Iranian talks this month would reduce tensions.

"The use of force to solve this issue will have catastrophic implications for the whole umma (Muslim nations) and for the whole world," Aziz told a press conference in Amman on Friday.

"We are pleased to see that Iran will be engaging in a dialogue with the United States and we hope that leads to a reduction of tensions in the region," said Aziz, who is in Jordan to attend a G11 summit of developing countries.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced in Islamabad on Thursday that envoys from Iran and the United States are to meet in Iraq on May 28 for talks on the country's security crisis.

"Nothing but Iraq is on the agenda for Iran and US talks," he said.

The May 28 talks are believed to be the first official bilateral ambassadorial encounter between the arch-foes since they mothballed relations after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Ties between Tehran and Washington have been bedeviled by both the Iranian nuclear row and the situation in Iraq, where the United States accuses Iran of aiding militant Shiite groups and attacking US forces.

Tehran denies that it arms Iraqi insurgents and says that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

Turning to the G11, Aziz said he hoped the grouping -- Croatia, Ecuador, Georgia, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and El Salvador -- could "gradually build into a platform to promote free trade."

"The developing world needs today trade more than anything because trade is permanent. Trade creates an industrial base and jobs which will drive growth forward," he said.

Pakistan, he added, has no plans to set up diplomatic ties with Israel before a solution is found to the Palestinian issue.

"Our stand on relations with Israel is very clear. Once the Palestinian issue is resolved we will consider further steps but we are not planning any diplomatic relations (now)," Aziz said.

"The Palestinian people deserve a homeland and the right to live in peace."


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