Malaysia against Iraq sanctions and US bombing

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 (South News) -- Malaysia blamed the UN security council for failing to move forward in fostering confidence building measures to prevent the current UNSCOM standoff as the United States edged closer to military strikes against Iraq.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said such consultations should also include a full-pledged review of the UN resolutions on Iraq with a view to an early lifting of the trade embargo and addressing Iraq's legitimate concerns over the impartiality of UNSCOM and chief weapons inspector Richard Butler.

He said Malaysia did not believe that Iraq wished to deliberately undermine the UNSCOM mechanism but its actions were more to question the sincerity and neutrality of UNSCOM and its leadership.

The foreign minister said the eight-year old sanctions against Iraq  had inflicted excessive damage to the country and its people and any unilateral military action would be totally ill-conceived and would undermine regional peace abd stability.

Abdullah appealed to all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint and not to abandon diplomatic means to resolve the standoff under any circumstances.

" Malaysia remains opposed to any unilateral use of military force and believes that continued dialogue and consultations between the United Nations Secretary-General and Iraq is essential to maintain the UN regime to monitor Iraq's weapons programmes," he said. " Malaysia calls on the UN Secretary-General to intervene and seek an amicable resolution on the basis of building understanding and trust between Iraq and UNSCOM," he said.

Abdullah said today the international community could not be expected to accept the position that Iraq had lost its legitimate right to protect its interest and sovereignty.

" On the contrary, Malaysia considers that Iraq has the legitimate right to protect its interest, and trusts that Iraq at the same time will also fully comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and immediately review its recent actions", he said in a statement.

Abdullah said Malaysia regretted that since the signing of the agreement between Iraq and the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan a year ago for Iraq's continued cooperation with the weapons inspectors, the council had failed to move forward in fosterign confidence-building meaures to prevent the present standoff.

In a further appeal, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a plea for peace and dialogue. "I hope there is no attack. I hope people will sit down and talk to each other," he told reporters after launching the new Proton Perdana V6  here.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was against physical assault on anybody, whether it was an individual or a country. He was responding to a question on the planned military strikes by the United States and Britain to punish the Gulf nation for its standoff with the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) responsible for eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Mahathir's remarks on the Iraq-UNSCOM standoff came amid U.S. warships in the Gulf region and the Pentagon beginning a major buildup of warplanes and troops.