Italy supports GCC bid on enriched uranium West Asian pool

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Dubai, Nov 26 (UNI) Italy has said it supports the Gulf Cooperation Council member states' initiative to create an international organisation for all users of enriched uranium in the West Asia, to defuse Tehran's stand-off with the West over its nuclear programme.

''Italy backs the GCC member countries' proposal to set up an international organisation in a neutral country to supervise the provision of enriched uranium to all users in the West Asia, including Iran,'' Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said in an address to the Federal National Council (FNC) yesterday.

Gulf News reported that Mr Prodi reiterated his country's support to ''Iran's right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme.'' The first foreign leader to address the FNC, Mr Prodi stressed the international community's right to effectively ensure the peaceful nature of Iran's programme and called on Tehran to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty protocol.

The GCC initiative was launched recently by Saudi Arabia. ''We have proposed a solution, which is to create a consortium for all users of enriched uranium in the West Asia,'' Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal was quoted as saying.

''We would do it in a collective manner through a consortium that will distribute according to needs, give each plant its own necessary amount, and ensure no use of this enriched uranium for atomic weapons.'' While expressing understanding of Israel's fears over Iran's nuclear programme, Mr Prodi said, ''Lengthy negotiations with Tehran should be based on two principles, mainly Iran's right to set up a civil nuclear programme and the international community's right to make sure it is for peaceful purposes. These negotiations should cover all issues and not only the nuclear programme.'' Mr Prodi praised the UAE as a model of success. ''The UAE has maintained good relations with Italy and other countries and represents a peaceful, rich, stable, multinational and multicultural society.'' FNC Speaker Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair praised Italy's political support to the UAE, especially the right to the three occupied islands.

President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan yesterday held talks with the Italian Prime Minister, who is on a visit to the UAE.

They discussed bilateral ties and exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments, with a focus on the peace process in the West Asia and the situation in Iraq.

The President stressed the UAE's keenness to strengthen economic, investment and commercial relations with Italy.

UNI

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