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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 18:51 GMT 19:51 UK
Muslim nations ponder Iraq force
Muslim leaders at the Kuala Lumpur conference
Fifty-seven countries belong to the Organisation of Islamic Conference
Islamic nations have said they could contribute troops to Iraq if the UN takes charge of the operation.

The offer was made by officials from about 20 of the Muslim countries attending an emergency summit in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Members agreed Iraq could not be stabilised without a bigger role for the UN; Indonesia and Pakistan, among others, offered troops to back the UN.

Speakers at the summit also attacked US policy towards Iraq and Israel.

Delegates at the one-day meeting said the UN Security Council must pass a resolution which empowered the UN to oversee Iraq's transition to sovereignty.

"Peace, security and stability in Iraq could be secured and guaranteed through... the Iraqi people expressive their legitimate rights, including the right to free and fair elections," said a statement produced by the body.

UN force

The BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur said the meeting avoided direct criticism of the US for civilian deaths incurred during its assaults against Iraqi insurgents.

But it still accused the US of displaying a casual disregard for the safety of ordinary Iraqis.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan indicated they would consider sending peacekeepers to the Arab state if they were part of a UN force.

America's recent endorsement of a unilateral Israeli plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, while consolidating West Bank settlements, was also heavily criticised.

Summit delegates concluded the US move would derail the peace process by "denying the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people".




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The BBC's James Ingham
"They've called on the UN Security Council to adopt a new resolution"



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