U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday pressed all Middle Eastern nations to take part in a planned multilateral meeting on banning weapons of mass destruction from the region, according to a U.N. press release.
The planned meeting to discuss making the Middle East a WMD-free zone has near-universal international support, but neither Iran nor Israel has committed to attend the event tentatively slated to take place this December in Helsinki, Finland. Israel is widely assumed to possess nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, while Iran is widely suspected to be covertly pursuing an atomic bomb in tandem with its civilian atomic program.
Ban commended the Arab League for endorsing the scheduled meeting in a bid to encourage participation by neighboring non-Arab countries.
The U.N. chief lauded the planning efforts of meeting "facilitator" and Finnish diplomat Jaako Laajava. The officials conferred on Thursday over the planning activities and the potential for the gathering to take place.