Accessibility links

Non-Aligned Movement Urges Iraqi Cooperation, Criticizes Western Powers - 2003-02-24

Leaders of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement have opened their summit in Malaysia urging Iraq to fully cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors. But they also harshly criticized Western powers for threatening war to disarm Iraq without U.N. approval. The summit mood is somber, with speakers saying that the world situation today is as serious as during the Cold War.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad assumed the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement Monday warning that the world is in a terrible mess. He said conditions have not improved since the end of the East-West Cold War confrontation more than a decade ago. All the great hopes following the end of the Cold War have vanished, he said. And with the terrorists and the anti-terrorists fumbling blindly in their fight against each other, normalcy will not return for quite a long while.

Prime Minister Mahathir said terrorism is on the rise partly because of Muslim frustrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other perceived injustices. It is also because of what he called a revival of the old European trait of wanting to dominate the world. War must therefore be made illegal, he said. The enforcement of this must be by multilateral forces under the control of the United Nations. No single nation should be allowed to police the world, least of all to decide what action to take, when.

The summit has been overshadowed by confrontations over the Iraqi and North Korean weapons programs.

The summit is overwhelmingly opposed to military action - but member Iraq is under pressure to cooperate fully with the U.N. led disarmament effort. Outgoing Non-Aligned chairman, South African President Thabo Mbeki, outlined what the summit is expected to approve in its final resolution Tuesday. Peace and stability in our countries and the rest of the world demand that Iraq, a long-standing member of our Movement, should cooperate fully with the United Nations Security Council and the weapons inspectors to satisfy all humanity that it has no weapons of mass destruction, he said.

But the South African president added that the world demands all, including the more powerful nations, respect the findings of the weapons inspectors and the decisions of the U.N. Security Council.

Meanwhile, a draft resolution on North Korea reportedly calls for a peaceful end to the crisis sparked by North Korea's revived illegal nuclear program. However it avoids assigning blame for the crisis.

Statements condemning Israeli violence in Palestinian territories are also expected when the summit ends on Tuesday.