TEHRAN, Feb. 12 (Mehr News Agency) -- Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has warned of the Western powers' efforts to undermine the security in the Middle East that has been established through regional countries' cooperation.
"Some Western organizations are trying to bring imported security to the region... however, over the course of history, Iran's aim has been to establish intra-regional security in the face of the Westerners' imported security," Rafsanjani told the International Conference on Building a Confident Future for Southwest Asia on Tuesday.
The major powers have been seeking to jeopardize intra-regional security through creating small countries in the region, fomenting discord among regional states, and interfering in their internal affairs, he observed.
Rafsanjani, who also chairs the Assembly of Experts, urged regional countries to remain vigilant in order to prevent the enemies from gaining control of the Middle East's great resources.
He said the U.S. military invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the greater Middle East initiative proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush were also in line with the West's plan to undermine regional security.
The cleric called on Middle Eastern states to expand their comprehensive cooperation and to team up to safeguard the Persian Gulf, which he called the jewel of the Middle East, against the enemies' greedy eyes.
Rafsanjani asserted that Iran is not seeking to dominate regional countries or to interfere in other countries' spheres of influence. The Islamic Republic "wants to boost cooperation with other states," he added.
The expansion of relations with Middle Eastern countries is Iran's top priority, he added.
Rafsanjani proposed forming "a group of Asian countries which believe in divine religions, particularly Islam" to improve relations, "just like the European Union member states which decided to join together after many years of war."
Meanwhile, Najafi Elmi of the Expediency Council Economic Committee said that Southwest Asia is one of the world's most important geostrategic locations and called for measures to alter the "current unstable and inappropriate situation."
The Middle East has the potential to make considerable progress and to influence international relations, he told participants at the conference.
However, the region is embroiled in sectarian, religious, and ethnic violence provoked by forces inside and outside the region which has turned unimportant problems and minor differences into huge and unsolvable crises, he lamented.
Elmi stated that a "secure and stable situation" should be created in the Middle East so that regional countries can elevate their "political, economic, social, and cultural" status in the world.
The region needs an apolitical organization as a forum for exchanging ideas and boosting cooperation, he noted.
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