Malaysia heads the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which is considering a Saudi proposal for an Arab or Muslim force to replace the US-led troops in Iraq.

  

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told a news conference in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Friday that OIC countries did not want to participate under US leadership.

 

There was also no indication that Washington was prepared to withdraw in favour of a UN force, he said. 

  

"I don't think the US is interested to leave. From the beginning, I was of the view that the idea looks good but how do we go about implementing it?" Albar said.

 

"Generally, the OIC countries feel that if they participate, they do not want to participate under the multinational force. They want it to be under the blue berets, which is the UN peacekeeping force."

  

Security concern

 

Malaysian Prime Minister Abd Allah Ahmad Badawi said earlier in August Malaysia was "considering very deeply" the Saudi proposal and was open to deploying peacekeeping troops in Iraq, but only if the security situation stabilised.

  

"We have been reading some indications that the Americans will never agree (to pull out)"

Syed Hamid Albar,
foreign minister, Malaysia

Albar pointed out that the idea of a UN force was not even on the table for discussion at the Security Council, which would have to give it a mandate.

  

"We have been reading some indications that the Americans will never agree (to pull out). It will be difficult if the US doesn't agree and it is not on the agenda of the Security Council," he said.

  

The idea of an OIC force was "under discussion in the region and among Muslim countries but it has not picked up. There is no concrete decision".