Brunei to consider peace monitors, aid for Lebanon

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam told the emergency meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that the people of Brunei were deeply shocked by what is happening in Lebanon and said would consider requests for humanitarian and peacekeeping activities.

His Majesty said the view of ordinary people all over the world was that "this war must stop right now".

The monarch also called for immediate action by the OIC and assured members of Brunei's support at the Meeting of the Friends of the Chair of the 10th Islamic Summit Conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, yesterday, RTB reported.

During the discussion, His Majesty said if there is one issue that has made the events of the past month even more dreadful, it was the failure of the international community to unite.

Although His Majesty did not know yet the manner in which the United Nations will act on the situation in Lebanon, the monarch assured the OIC that Brunei would join fellow members in every way it can, and would consider requests for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping activities. His Majesty thanked the chairman (Malaysian Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) for bringing leaders of the OIC together.

Later, His Majesty attended a luncheon with other leaders.

His Majesty and HRH Pg Isteri Azrinaz Mazhar left Purtajaya yesterday afternoon.

Key nations from the 57-nation bloc, including Iran as well as allies of the US "war on terror" such as Turkey and Pakistan, condemned what they called the "relentless Israeli aggression" and called for an immediate truce, AFP reported.

In a joint statement they accused Israel of "blatant and flagrant" human rights violations in carrying out "indiscriminate and massive" air strikes in their three-week-old campaign against the Shiite Muslim Hizbollah militia.

"We demand that the UN Security Council fulfil its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security without any further delay by deciding on and enforcing an immediate and unconditional comprehensive ceasefire," they said.

They said Israel should bear "full responsibility for the consequences of its aggression".

The United States has declined to back international calls for a ceasefire and indicated that Israel's ground and air war was justified by the fight against terrorism.

But Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahwad Badawi, the OIC chairman who called Thursday's meeting, warned that Muslim anger across the world was deepening over the bloodshed in Lebanon.

Abdullah said the Muslim bloc had discussed any eventual peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, and that many nations would send troops if they were put under UN control -- as Lebanon has called for.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said OIC nations should support UN peacekeeping efforts.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said his country was ready to commit a battalion of troops and Abdullah said Malaysia would also contribute.

"We must play a more proactive role in the present conflict," he said.

The Muslim leaders also agreed to establish a Contact Group on the current situation in Lebanon, to be coordinated by Malaysia and comprising members of the OIC Troika and other interested members.

They also supported the Lebanese government's seven-point plan for the immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, which included an undertaking to release the Lebanese and Israeli prisoners and detainees through the International Community of Red Crescent (ICRC), the withdrawal of the Israeli army behind the Blue Line, and the return of the displaced to their villages.

The OIC also strongly condemned Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and its detention of Palestinian officials.

"We strongly condemn the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and for its unrelenting aggression against the Palestinian people," key nations from the OIC said in a statement.

"We further condemn Israel for the abduction and detention of Palestinian cabinet ministers, government officials and other individuals and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all Palestinian detainees held by Israel," the statement added. - Borneo Bulletin (4th August 2006)