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PM arrives in Tehran for 16th NAM Summit

Tehran, Aug 28 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, arrived here on Tuesday to attend the XVI Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit.

He was received by Iran’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Dr. Seyed Shamseddin Hoseini.

Earlier, before departing for Tehran, Dr. Singh said in New Delhi that he was looking forward to the opportunity to review bilateral relations with some of the member states of NAM.

“ I also look forward to exchanging views on regional and global issues with many of my counterparts,” Dr. Singh said, adding that he would use his visit to emphasize the need for credible trans-national action on issues such as the worsening situation in Syria, ways to reduce persistent global economic slowdown, besides determining ways to counter other new and emerging threats.

He hoped the discussions at the summit would provide a strong political impetus to ongoing efforts to reform and democratise global governance structures, which are critical to tackle these challenges more effectively.

Dr. Singh said ''''the diversity and size of membership of NAM presents a tremendous potential for collaboration and cooperation amongst us to resolve shared developmental challenges''''.

"It is important that our movement catalyzes such opportunities for mutual benefit. India will continue with its contributions in these endeavours of South-South cooperation," he added.

 Asserting that India is a founder member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Dr. Singh said: "During the entire period of the Cold War and its ideological and military confrontation across the Iron Curtain, the Non-Aligned Movement constituted a voice of reason and sanity. Our grouping, while avoiding entanglement in a destructive and wasteful confrontation so as to be able to purse economic and social development, was nevertheless at the forefront of promoting mutual understanding and lessening of tensions."

"I will emphasize at the Summit that those original wellsprings of our Movement continue to remain relevant, especially in a world where the global economy remains in crisis and the geo-political landscape continues to be transformed in uncertain and unpredictable ways," he added.

The summit is being held at three levels. The expert meetings at the foreign secretary and deputy foreign minister levels were held on August 26 and 27, during which delegates exchanged views on various global issues.

The foreign minister-level meetings began today and will conclude tomorrow.

 At the opening ceremony of the summit on the 30th, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali  Khamenei, will deliver the opening address.

Besides Dr. Manmohan Singh,  the other dignitaries expected to be present are the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Kim Yong-nam, the chairman of the Presidium of the North Korean Supreme People''s Assembly (parliament), Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan, Lebanese President Michel Sulaiman, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Among the various issues, NAM is also expected to draw up a new peace resolution to solve the Syrian crisis. Discussions on nuclear disarmament have been going on for the past few days and, these are also expected to find a mention in various speeches made by heads of state and government.

During his visit, Dr. Singh is expected to pitch for reinvigorating the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement in the context of a shifting world order. Issues of global governance, how to restore the balance in international institutions, including reforms in the United Nations and reform of international financial institutions are likely to be some of the focus areas of the Indian delegation.

All eyes will be on Dr. Singh''s meeting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tomorrow ahead of the summit.  No doubt, circumventing the sanctions regime will form a major part of the discussions that the two delegations will have.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai reiterated that while India abides by UN sanctions against Iran, it was not bound by unilateral sanctions imposed by other countries. But due to the sanctions regime, it is nearly impossible for Indian tankers to get insurance for their journey to Iran and back. These logistical difficulties will be discussed between the two delegations.

Despite U.S. pressures, ten to twelve percent of India''s oil needs are still fulfilled by Iran.

Besides meeting the Iranian President and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, he is also expected to meet with several other heads of state and government, especially leaders of SAARC nations, prominent among them being Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Prime Minister returns to Delhi on Friday 31st August.

By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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I am the Editor News, at Asian News International (ANI), Indiaís leading Multimedia News Agency and the India Correspondent for Channel News Asia, a Singapore based broadcaster.
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