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Non-Aligned Movement Meets Monday in Malaysia - 2003-02-23


Dozens of heads-of-state and government from around the world have been arriving in Malaysia for Monday's opening of the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. The issues of Iraq and North Korea appear likely to dominate the proceedings.

As leaders of the movement prepare to open their 13th summit, ministerial delegations have been hammering out compromises in late-night meetings.

Delegates told reporters that agreement has been reached on a draft resolution urging Iraq to actively comply with United Nations weapons inspectors. But they say the draft also presses for multilateral actions through the United Nations, rather than unilateral actions.

This language is seen as opposing U.S. government's preparations for a military invasion of Iraq. Washington accuses Baghdad of concealing its weapons of mass destruction and of lying to U.N. weapons inspectors about their existence.

Delegates have also been working on a draft resolution that would urge North Korea to reconsider its decision to abandon the nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement, while calling for the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program to be resolved in a peaceful manner.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is to take over as chairman of the movement, warned Sunday that an invasion of Iraq will anger more Muslims.

Mr. Mahathir said North Korea's reported admission that it had a nuclear weapons program met with what he called only mild admonishment by the West. This, he said, seems to prove that the real purpose of an attack on Iraq would not be to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but to wage war against Muslims.

Iraq and North Korea have sent senior delegations to the summit.

Disagreement reportedly continues over a resolution criticizing Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories and over efforts to establish a definition of international terrorism.

Some four dozen heads of state and government are expected to attend the two-day summit. The Non-Aligned Movement, with 114 members, represents nearly two-thirds of the world's nations and more than half its population. It was founded more than 40 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, as an alternative to the Western and Soviet blocs.

It experienced a decline after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War 12 years ago, but in recent years it has been seeking to revitalize its role as a voice for the world's less-developed nations.

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