February 5, 2012 / 1:39 PM / in 6 years

Attack on Iran "would be disaster," must talk: Turkey

MUNICH (Reuters) - Turkey and Qatar urged the West Sunday not to attack Iran to solve a nuclear row, but to make greater efforts to negotiate an end to the dispute.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of security officials and diplomats, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said an attack would be a “disaster” and the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program could be ended very rapidly.

“If there is strong political will and mutual confidence being established, this issue could be resolved in a few days,” he said. “The technical disputes are not so big. The problem is mutual confidence and strong political will. ”

Turkey was the venue of the last talks between Western powers and Iran a year ago which ended in stalemate because participants could not even agree on an agenda.

The West has since imposed much tougher sanctions on Iran, which it suspects of seeking nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its nuclear work is purely civilian and peaceful.

Davutoglu added: “A military option will create a disaster in our region. So before that disaster, everybody must be serious in negotiations. We hope soon both sides will meet again but this time there will be a complete result.”

In Tehran, the deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards told the semi-official Fars news agency Iran would attack any country whose territory is used by “enemies” of the Islamic state to launch a military strike against its soil.

Washington and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the standoff. Iran has warned of firm retaliation if attacked, including targeting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khalid Mohamed al-Attiyah, whose Gulf country is increasingly active in regional diplomacy, said an attack “is not a solution, and tightening the embargo on Iran will make the scenario worse. I believe we should have dialogue.”

“I believe that with our allies and friend in the West we should open a serious dialogue with the Iranians to get out of this dilemma. This is what we feel in our region.”

Tension between Iran and the West rose last month when Washington and the European Union imposed the toughest sanctions yet on Iran to try to force it to provide more information on its nuclear program. The measures are aimed at shutting off the second-biggest OPEC oil exporters’ sales of crude.

Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Tim Pearce

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