Page last updated at 21:01 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Miliband to speak out over Iran

David Miliband
Mr Miliband will say the Middle East peace process is at a 'critical juncture'

Britain's foreign secretary is to urge Arab leaders to make clear they do not support Iran's nuclear ambitions, as he visits the United Arab Emirates.

David Miliband will say a nuclear-armed Tehran is the "most immediate" threat to Middle East stability.

He will also warn that hopes of a Middle East peace deal could be "lost forever" unless there are significant breakthroughs soon.

Arab leaders will be asked to play a greater role in solving the conflict.

In a speech to the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi, Mr Miliband will say Iran's regional neighbours need to put more pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Nuclear danger

"A nuclear-armed Iran would be a decisive blow against those seeking to promote pragmatic and peaceful solutions to the region's problems," he will say.

"The consequent nuclear arms race would be very dangerous. The acquisition of a nuclear weapon would strengthen Tehran's regional position, injecting its attempts to stoke up division and promote instability with much greater confidence."

Mr Miliband will say the sanctions which the European Union and United Nations have put on Iran are not designed to promote regime change or as a precursor to military action.

For too long the countries of the region have been kept at one, if not several, removes from the peace process
David Miliband

Gulf states could pursue "further restrictive measures" to prevent the smuggling and export to Iran of goods used for nuclear development, he will say.

"And there is much that the Arab countries could do to counter Tehran's claims that their quest for greater influence and their nuclear programme enjoys tacit support throughout the region."

Mr Miliband will say the Middle East peace process is at a "critical juncture" with conditions "deteriorating".

"Because if the status quo continues, I believe that the prospect of peace could disappear forever.

"Why? Because the situation on the ground, that leaves too many people insecure, in poverty and despair, is rapidly undermining the political process.

"And because while both sides are tiring of the conflict, they are also tiring, faster, of efforts to resolve it."

He will call for Arab leaders to play a bigger role in attempts to resolve the conflict.

"For too long the countries of the region have been kept at one, if not several, removes from the peace process," he will say.



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