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Indonesia foreign minister downplays Iran mediation

Written by: Staff
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NUSA DUA, Indonesia, May 11 (Reuters) Indonesia's foreign minister today downplayed the possibility of the country, the world's most populous Muslin naton, mediating in the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, asked by reporters yesterday what role Indonesia could play on the issue, said: ''''We can cooperate well in reducing the tension and move toward continuing talks and negotiations.'' Presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal had answered in the affirmative when asked if that meant Indonesia was ready to mediate, adding: ''Iran was very receptive'' to the idea.

They were speaking after a meeting with visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told reporters on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, when asked about the mediation proposal: ''It was in the bilateral setting that the issue was discussed.

We did not claim that we had offered mediation on this issue.

''We suggested Iran to maximise their efforts to solve the problems of the Iranian nuclear issue through a diplomatic and peaceful negotiation.'' However, he said Indonesia did think it could play an ''active role'' in negotiations and wanted to ''explore this possibility.'' Indonesia has good relations with the West as well as Iran and other Middle East countries.

Iran has been under pressure from countries led by the United States to rein in a nuclear programme critics fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says the programme is intended for peaceful purposes only.

Wirajuda was speaking at the resort hotel where leaders of the Developing Eight are due to meet on Saturday.

The group includes Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan and Egypt.

REUTERS OM RS2135

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