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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Muslim nations condemn US policy
Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi
Mr Abdullah was deeply critical of the US stance on the Middle East
Officials from Muslim nations have denounced US policies on Israel and Iraq at a meeting in Malaysia.

Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference urged Washington to drop its support for Israel's plan to keep some settlements in the West Bank.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians with atrocities suffered by the Jews in the past.

On Iraq, he said the hopes sparked by Saddam Hussein's fall had not been met.

'Harmful' plan

The meeting of the OIC was due to be held next month, but Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called for it to be brought forward after US President George W Bush backed Israel's plan for the Middle East.

The terror inflicted on Palestinians are beginning to assume the characteristics of atrocities once encountered by the Jews themselves
Abdullah Badawi
Malaysian Prime Minister
Under the plan, Israel would dismantle Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip but retain some of the West Bank land captured in the 1967 war.

Mr Abdullah told the meeting in Putrajaya that the blueprint contradicted "the essence of the way to peace".

In their draft statement on the Middle East, delegates said the plan was "detrimental to the peace process".

The plan has also been fiercely criticised by Palestinian leaders, who say any settlement must be negotiated on the basis of UN resolutions.

Mr Abdullah condemned suicide bombings by Palestinian militants, but said Israel's "state terrorism" and "cruel assassination" of Hamas leaders had even more severe consequences.

"Indeed the terror inflicted on Palestinians by Israel are beginning to assume the characteristics of atrocities once encountered by the Jews themselves," he said.

Turning to Iraq, the Malaysian prime minister said: "The hopes and expectations of the international community which followed the ending of the war against Iraq on 1 May 2003 have not been met."

"Gone are the joy and jubilation of some Iraqis (at) the collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein," he added.

He said the current violence was "nothing less than the fierce resistance of people against what is increasingly seen as an occupation force".

About 20 of the OIC's 57 members attended the meeting - although only Pakistan, Indonesia and the Palestinians sent foreign ministers.

The BBC's Jonathan Kent
"The recent assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders brought condemnation"

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