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      US: Nuke-Free Mideast Conference Cancelled

      The U.S. announced that a conference on a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction has been cancelled.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 11/25/2012, 1:18 PM

      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
      Reuters

      The United States said Friday that a conference on a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction has been cancelled due to conditions in the region and lack of consensus among the states involved.

      The conference, which had been proposed in a 2010 review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was scheduled to be held next month in Finland.

      However, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the countries had been unable to agree on "acceptable conditions for a conference", citing "present conditions in the Middle East."

      The announcement comes amid the recent violence emanating from Gaza, civil war in Syria and an unsettled political situation in Egypt.

      "The United States believes that a deep conceptual gap persists in the region on approaches toward regional security and arms control arrangements," Nuland said in a statement.

      "These differences can only be bridged through direct engagement and agreement among the states in the region. Outside states cannot impose a process on the region any more than they can dictate an outcome,” she stated.

      "We would not support a conference in which any regional state would be subject to pressure or isolation," Nuland added, alluding to Israel.

      The issue has long set Israel, which has an undeclared nuclear stockpile, against Arab states led by Egypt, which want the United Nations to declare a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

      Meanwhile, Iran continues its unremitting perusal of nuclear weapons, while calling for the destruction and obliteration of the Jewish state.