U.S. calls off Middle East nuclear talks

The Associated Press /

Published Nov 11, 2012 at 04:00AM

VIENNA — Attempts to find Arab-Israeli common ground on banning weapons of mass destruction in the Mideast have failed, and high-profile talks on the issue have been called off, diplomats said Saturday.

Two diplomats said the United States, one of the organizers, would likely make a formal announcement saying that, with tensions in the region remaining high, “time is not opportune” for such a gathering. The diplomats were not authorized to divulge the cancellation.

This year’s meeting was on shaky ground since it was agreed to in 2010 by the 189 member nations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Its key sponsors were the U.S., Russia and Britain, but they said such a meeting was only possible if all countries — especially Israel —agreed to attend.

The decision to postpone, if not to scrap it, will cast doubt on the significance of the treaty. Hopes for a meeting were alive as recently as Tuesday, when Iran joined Arab nations in saying it planned to attend, leaving Israel as the only undecided country.