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Egypt wants diplomatic solution to Iran crisis

Written by: Staff
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CAIRO, Apr 13 (Reuters) Egypt said today it wanted a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme and could not accept the emergence of a new nuclear-armed power in the region.

In a statement after a meeting with the US State Department's senior arms control official, it also said that failure to persuade Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was a setback to the non-proliferation system.

''It is important to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis over the Iranian nuclear file,'' Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in the statement.

''Egypt cannot accept the appearance of a military nuclear force in the region, since that would further complicate the regional security imbalance in the Middle East,'' he added.

The Foreign Ministry released the statement after Aboul Gheit had talks with US Under Secretary of State Robert Joseph, who handles arms control and international security.

Joseph will also visit other countries in the region to talk about Iran's nuclear programme after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad announced this week that his country has succeeded in producing enriched uranimum, officials said.

Aboul Gheit said there had been no progress towards the Egyptian goal of a nuclear-free Middle East ''in the light of Israel's persistence in refusing to join the NPT or even announce its intention to join the NPT''.

Israel is widely believed to have some 200 nuclear warheads but the United States and the European Union rarely talk about Israel's nuclear activities.

Joseph said the United States remained in favour of universal adherence to the NPT but was concentrating for the moment on what he called the urgent threat posed by Iran to the non-proliferation system.

REUTERS SHB PM2007

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