Envoys from London and Baghdad in Malaysia as war clouds loom
AFP Friday January 10
Caught up in the whirl of intense international
diplomatic activity over a possible war against Iraq,
Malaysia found itself playing host to envoys from
both sides of the potential conflict -- London and
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was in Kuala
Lumpur on the last leg of a tour of Southeast Asia to
drum up support for action against Iraq, while Iraq's
industry minister was in town for talks on boosting
economic and trade links.
Malaysia is due to take over the chairmanship of the
57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference
(OIC) after a summit meeting here in October.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has made clear his
opposition to any invasion of Iraq by the United
States and allies such as Britain without the backing
of the United Nations, and will no doubt give the
same message to Straw at a meeting later Friday.
Straw in turn is expected to repeat the warning he
gave in Indonesia Thursday: that Muslim nations have
as much to fear from Iraq's alleged weapons of mass
destruction as the West.
Straw's visit comes hard on the heels of that of US
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International
Security, John Bolton, who was in Kuala Lumpur on
Wednesday as part of an Asian tour with a similar
Bolton was told by Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar
that Malaysia believed an invasion of Iraq would
create instability, drain the focus from the war on
international terrorism and hinder economic recovery.
While Malaysia wanted Iraq to comply with UN
disarmament resolutions a war would not be popular
among Muslim countries or developing nations, Syed
The foreign minister will also hold talks with Straw
Friday, but shortly before that he will open a
meeting of the Malaysia-Iraq Joint Commission
attended by Iraqi Minister for Industry and Minerals,
Muyassar Rija Shalah.
Syed Hamid said after meeting the Iraqi envoy
Thursday that he had given an assurance that Malaysia
would not support any unilateral action against Iraq.
He also said Malaysia would "extend economic and
trade activities with Iraq", the official Bernama
news agency reported.
Malaysia has repeatedly expressed its opposition to
enforced "regime change" in Baghdad, saying that
Iraqis themselves should determine whether President
Saddam Hussein remains in power.
Straw was given the same message in Indonesia, the
world's largest Muslim-populated nation, when he
visited Thursday after first calling in at Singapore.
In response, Straw said disarmament rather than
regime change was the main objective in Iraq and war
could be avoided if Saddam Hussein gave up his
weapons of mass destruction.
During his lightning Southeast Asian trip, Straw is
also sounding out opinions on the crisis over North
Korea's nuclear weapons programme, and the status of
the international war on terrorism.
Senior U.S. envoy tells Malaysia that war in Iraq "not inevitable"
Wed Jan 8, 6:21 AM ET
By SEAN YOONG, Associated Press Writer
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A senior U.S. envoy told
Malaysia Wednesday that a war in Iraq remains
"avoidable" if Baghdad gives up any weapons of mass
destruction as required by U.N. Security Council
resolutions, Malaysia's foreign minister said.
U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and
International Security John Bolton met with Malaysian
Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who voiced
concerns that a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq might
trigger widespread instability and plunge the world
economy into turmoil.
Bolton assured Malaysian officials that "the war is
not inevitable," Syed Hamid said.
"It is avoidable, but they (the U.S. government) have
placed a lot of responsibility on Iraq to comply with
the U.N. resolutions," Syed Hamid told a news
Malaysia, one of Southeast Asia's staunchest
opponents of a possible war in Iraq, is Bolton's
third stop on a trip through the Asia-Pacific region
to brief officials on Washington's stance on Iraq and
North Korea (news - web sites).
Bolton, speaking separately to reporters, said Kuala
Lumpur had "also made it plain" that it wants Iraq to
comply with U.N. resolutions and eliminate weapons
"Everybody has agreed on that, and I think that's a
very important point as we enter the next several
weeks waiting for the report of the (U.N. arms
inspectors) to the Security Council," Bolton said.
The Malaysian government, a key U.S. ally in the
international fight against terrorism, has repeatedly
warned that a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq would fuel
anti-Western sentiment among Muslims and could spur
more terrorist attacks.
Syed Hamid told Bolton that Malaysia a mostly
Muslim country of 23 million people believed
Washington was treating Iraq unfairly compared to
North Korea, for example.
"We have made it very clear we are not happy with"
the different treatment, Syed Hamid said, stressing
Malaysia was convinced that a war in Iraq would "not
be a popular war among developing as well as Muslim
Since last fall, North Korea has taken steps toward
violating international agreements to freeze nuclear
weapons programs, such as enriching weapons-grade
uranium and reactivating facilities that could be
used to make weapons-grade plutonium.
While Washington fears the facilities could be used
to build bombs, it has repeatedly said it has no
intention of invading.
Syed Hamid said a Non-Aligned Movement summit in
Kuala Lumpur next month would make a stand on the
Iraq issue. Between 40 and 50 nations are expected to
attend the summit of the 114-member organization,
comprising mostly smaller developing countries.
Bolton visited New Zealand and Singapore earlier this
week. After leaving Malaysia, he is to brief
officials in the Philippines and Thailand before
flying to Japan, South Korea (news - web sites) and
China to discuss North Korea's nuclear program.
Bolton said he had not asked any governments "for
anything specifically" on this trip.
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press.
XIII NAM Summit to focus more on terrorism and its threats
KUALA LUMPUR Jan 9 - The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM),
which deserves a pat on the back for having achieved
major successes in the past in relation to
decolonisation and the dismantling of apartheid, now
needs to prove its worth by protecting its 114 member
states, especially in the wake of terrorism and its
In the past, by tradition, the movement's summits
have always touched on various issues such as
sovereignty, independence, stablity and economic
development for member states, apart from social
problems. But this is about to change come the XIII
NAM Summit to be held here next month.
In the last summit five years ago in Durban, South
Africa, heads of state and government of the NAM, in
a document entitled "Durban Declaration for the New
Millennium", said that there was evidence in the
world, especially in the developed world, of
exaggerated ethnicity, chauvinism and xenophobia.
"This is the closest they (NAM) have come to
attacking the developed nations, but this time around
we expect stronger words telling the developed world
to put a lid on their exuberance for war in the name
of crushing terrorism," said an official in the
diplomatic circle who declined to be named.
The Durban Summit has also stressed on unity of
purpose and strategy among member states, critical to
the very existence of the movement.
They have then pointed out the negative impacts of
globalisation and liberalisation as major threats to
developed and underdeveloped countries, saying that a
country could be lost to these two "threats".
"We must act positively to shape our future,
advocating a new system of international relations
that is both democratic and representative of all,
based on respect for the purposes and principles of
the United Nations Charter and the sovereign equality
of nations," the NAM heads of state and government
said at the end of the Durban Summit.
NAM has not all been off the mark as at the 1998
Summit, the movement emphasized on the need for a
just world order free from unilateral coercive
measures. This was three years before the Sept 11
attacks on the United States, which started the whole
"war-on-terrorism ball rolling".
The 114 nations then have also wanted a world free of
weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear
weapons, a world based on tolerance and genuine
coexistence and a world based on respect for the
United Nations Charter and the full observance of its
principles and purposes.
NAM members are expected to take it from here at the
Kuala Lumpur Summit, themed `Continuing the
Revitalisation of NAM', where they hope to make a
fresh effort to make the movement more relevant and
at the same time making its presence felt in the
The movement's key members met in Cape Town, South
Africa, last month and have identified four important
areas in the agenda of the NAM summit here.
After a gruelling three-day session, the foreign
ministers of key NAM members decided that issues
relating to terrorism, intervention and unilateral
action, non-observance of international law and the
continued military occupation of Palestine should
take the limelight at this meeting.
Besides terrorism, the Kuala Lumpur Summit is also
expected to dwell on democratisation of international
institutions which include reforms in the United
Nations' system and global financial bodies.
"These other issues, we expect not to take up too
much time ... but the important issue at this NAM
meeting will be terrorism, its root causes, the way
the West has been handling the whole issue and most
likely the effectiveness of the United Nations in
overseeing the issue.
"They will also most likely touch on America's double
standards in waging war against nations it has
described as the `axis of evil'. The war or intended
war on Iraq will also be part of the summit," said a
Wisma Putra official involved in the organisation of
The leaders are likely to touch on trade issues like
the inequities of the multilateral trading system
under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The XIII NAM Summit will also, not departing from
tradition, linger on issues of human rights,
development and capacity-building, promotion of good
governance, transparency and democratic practices and
marginalisation of developing countries in