Sunday, September 17, 2006

From combined dispatches

HAVANA — Developing countries yesterday wrapped up a multinational summit with North Korea charging that U.S. threats drove it to acquire deterrent atomic weapons and Iran winning solid support for its nuclear ambitions.

Iran, Venezuela and Cuba joined North Korea in leading efforts to forge an anti-U.S. alliance. Summit leaders, in a statement on Iran, “reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.”

They warned that any attack or threat against any nuclear facility used for peaceful purposes was a violation of international law.

North Korea took the opportunity to assail the United States for unilateral actions against individual countries and called for a revitalization of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

“The United States is attempting to deprive other countries of even their legitimate right to peaceful nuclear activities,” said North Korea’s second-ranking leader, Kim Yong-nam.

Mr. Kim blamed Washington for “threatening Korea using all sorts of maneuvers, accusing it of being part of an ‘Axis of Evil.’”

He added: “Korea has nuclear arms as a deterrent to firmly guarantee the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the region.”

The leaders’ statement on Iran, released as the meeting ended, was an updated version of a document adopted in May at a NAM ministerial meeting in Malaysia.

They stressed that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency found that all nuclear material declared by Iran had been accounted for.

Governments with friendly ties to Washington, among them India, Pakistan, Chile, Peru and Colombia, sought to steer the summit away from confrontation and finger-pointing at the United States.

“I do not see this summit as anti-U.S.,” Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters. “NAM has been set up not to be anti-any country.”

The NAM leaders called for a negotiated settlement to the nuclear dispute with Iran. The United States is pushing for sanctions to force Tehran to stop producing enriched uranium, which can be used both for both nuclear power and atomic weapons.

Leaders took turns on the podium to decry global poverty, unfair trade practices and “arbitrary” actions by the United States and other powerful nations that they complained controlled the United Nations.

In a concrete result, nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan agreed to resume formal peace negotiations that were frozen after the July train bombings in Bombay that killed nearly 200 people.

Cuban President Fidel Castro, a symbol of opposition to Washington, was scheduled to preside over the summit, but was too ill to attend.

Mr. Castro received U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a dressing gown in his hospital room. The 80-year-old communist leader, who took power in a revolution in 1959, ceded power temporarily to his brother, Raul, on July 31 after undergoing surgery to stop intestinal bleeding.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with his penchant for banter and controversy, dominated the summit opening Friday, pledging support for Iran if it is attacked by the United States.

Other countries called for moderation. A Colombian delegate said friendlier nations had tried to soften the anti-U.S. content of the final statement.

The summit brought together some states not only impatient with what they see as a U.S.-dominated United Nations, but eager to strengthen the NAM as an alternative and to foster cooperation within the Third World.

“The United States is turning the Security Council into a platform for imposing its policies. … We should reinforce NAM, and it should play its role more efficiently,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday at the summit.

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