- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

NEW DELHI, Feb. 22 (UPI) — India's prime minister Saturday said that the 114-nation Non-Aligned Movement should pressure the United States to find a solution to the Iraq crisis without a war.

"War should be avoided and a solution to the Iraq crisis be found through the United Nations Security Council," Atal Behari Vajpayee told reporters onboard an aircraft on his way from New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to attend the NAM summit.

Vajpayee said the NAM group should try to convince the United States to resolve the Iraq crisis through the U.N. Security Council. India has already said that it would not back a war against Iraq if it didn't have the support of the United Nations.

"Cold war has ended. We want to make a multi-polar world and NAM should focus on that," the Press Trust of India quoted Vajpayee.

The priority for NAM has traditionally been forging consensus among its far-flung and very different members. They come mostly from the developing world in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but also include some former Yugoslav countries like Croatia who are far more supportive of the Bush administration. NAM also includes veteran critics of U.S. policy like Cuba.

Expectations of a clash between U.S. allies and the rest of NAM faded earlier this week as the organization rallied around the consensus of supporting the United Nations and the inspection process.

Other tensions than the prospect of a war in Iraq have captured NAM members' attention as well. For example, India has ruled out a bilateral meeting between Vajpayee and rival Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, on the sidelines of the NAM summit. India accuses Pakistan of abetting a separatist Islamic uprising in Kashmir that has claimed 37,000 lives in the last 14 years.

Islamabad denies financing the Islamic rebels but has supported militants calling their struggle as Islamic freedom movement for Kashmir.

The two neighbors, with Bangladesh the countries that comprised British India until independence in 1947, have fought two wars over the Himalayan region during the last five decades.


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