VIENNA/UNITED NATIONS - Potentially divisive talks planned for next month on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East may be postponed, diplomats said on Tuesday, a development likely to anger Arab states but please Israel.

No formal decision has yet been announced to delay the mid-December conference on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but UN officials said the talks might now not happen before 2013.

Given the situation in the Middle East, a Vienna-based diplomat said, there seemed to be little prospect for a successful conference this year. "The idea will be that it is postponed, not cancelled," the diplomat said.

Asked what the reaction from Arab states would be if it was not held as planned, an Arab diplomat said: "Negative."

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