LONDON - Britain said on Saturday it hoped a conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East could take place "as soon as possible", after the United States said it would not be held next month.

The US State Department said on Friday that the conference could "not be convened because of present conditions in the Middle East and the fact that states in the region have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions for a conference".

It did not spell out when or if the event, originally scheduled for December, would take place.

But Britain, which along with the United States, Russia and the United Nations is ones of the organizers, made it clear that the conference was only being postponed rather than cancelled altogether, saying it backed efforts to hold it next year.

"We support the convening of a conference as soon as possible. We endorse fully the work of the Conference Facilitator, Finnish Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava, to build consensus on next steps," Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said in a statement.

"We welcome his commitment to conduct further multilateral consultations with the countries of the region to agree arrangements for a conference in 2013," Burt said.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger