News / Middle East

    Iran's Ahmadinejad Urges Central Asia to End Domination of 'Enslavers and Colonizers'

    Front row from left, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev and Russian President Medvedev walk after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, June 15, 2011
    Front row from left, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev and Russian President Medvedev walk after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, June 15, 2011

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged Central Asian nations to create a new world order that ends the domination of what he called the "enslavers and colonizers of the past" - a reference to Western powers.

    Ahmadinejad was speaking Wednesday at the opening of a regional summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Kazakh capital, Astana. Addressing the summit as an observer, he said all of the participating nations have a history of avoiding conflicts and together can bring peace to the world.

    The SCO is a regional security and economic forum whose members include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.  Several nations participate as observers, including Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia.

    The Iranian president used much of his summit speech to blame unnamed Western countries for global instability. After the summit, Russia says President Dmitry Medvedev urged Mr. Ahmadinejad to take a "more constructive approach" in resolving a dispute with six world powers about the Iranian nuclear program.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Mr. Medvedev also called on the Iranian president to improve the transparency of his contacts with the United Nations nuclear agency. The Russian president made the appeals in a three-way meeting with  Ahmadinejad and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

    Six major powers, Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany, have been trying to persuade Iran to stop sensitive nuclear work in return for diplomatic incentives, but the talks have been stalled for months.

    In private talks ahead of the summit Tuesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao also urged  Ahmadinejad to resume the six-nation talks, saying Iranian steps to establish trust and promote dialogue would be in the interest not only of Iran but of the Middle East as a whole.

    Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian energy program. Lavrov says Ahmadinejad told his Russian counterpart that Iran has no intention of becoming nuclear-armed.

    During Wednesday's summit, Russia appeared to win support from other SCO members for its criticism of U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Europe. In a declaration, the bloc said the "unilateral and unlimited" build-up of missile defense systems by one state or narrow group of states could "damage" global security.

    The declaration did not mention any nation specifically. The United States has said its proposed European missile defense shield is meant to protect the region from potential attack by Iranian missiles. But Russia fears the system will weaken its nuclear deterrent.

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