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Iran Grabs Spotlight as Developing Nations Meet in Bali


The dispute over Iran's nuclear program is overshadowing the fifth summit of the Developing Eight, a forum for eight large predominately Muslim economies. The Iranian president is arriving for a state visit in Indonesia, where officials are offering to help mediate the nuclear dispute between Tehran and the United Nations.

Even before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Jakarta Tuesday, Indonesian officials made it clear that they support Iran's right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful uses. Jakarta, however, opposes nuclear weapons proliferation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin says Indonesia is willing to help mediate with the West over Iran's nuclear program. Indonesia, a secular nation with the world's largest Muslim population, enjoys good relations with both the United States and Iran.

"We are going to do whatever we can in terms of possibility to help in this regard … as you know we are one of the biggest Muslim country," he said. "We have good will in terms of trying to resolve international conflict."

President Ahmadinejad makes a state visit to Indonesia before heading to Bali Friday for the summit of the Developing Eight nations.

His trip comes as foreign ministers from Britain, Germany, France, China, and Russia and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discuss getting a Security Council resolution that demands Iran end its uranium enrichment program and return to negotiations on its nuclear programs. The United States and other governments fear Tehran seeks to build nuclear weapons.

Indonesia's foreign minister said Tuesday Iran should be more transparent in its nuclear program and fulfill the standards required by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IAEA says Iran is not cooperating with its efforts to determine if the country's nuclear program is for creating energy or for making nuclear bombs.

The Developing Eight, or D-8, is a group of eight developing nations whose populations are mostly Muslim.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin says the summit will be a venue to boost trade and cooperation among the members.

"D-8 is really a grouping of [the] biggest economy within Islamic world, who are trying to get together in terms of identifying possibility - concrete cooperation for their respective development, and of course we are going to explore as much as possible concrete area for mutually beneficial cooperatio," said Yuri Thamrin.

Officials from the eight countries - Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt and Nigeria - have started preparatory meetings for the D-8 summit in Bali. The heads of state of the countries will begin their meeting on Friday.

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