UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N., U.S., Russia and Britain are announcing that Finland will host a conference in 2012 to start talks on turning the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

A joint statement on Friday at the United Nations says Finland's undersecretary of state for foreign affairs, Jaakko Laajava, will serve as "facilitator."

The announcement follows a meeting Thursday between U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and key Arab ambassadors.

May 2010, the 189 member nations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty called for convening a conference in 2012 on establishing a zone in the Mideast free of weapons of mass destruction.