Members of the Non-Aligned Movement should seek to “take a stand” against Western sanctions, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a speech Sunday, opening initial meetings for the NAM conference in Tehran. The main conference is scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
Salehi said that Non-Aligned member nations “should seriously confront unilateral sanctions of certain nations against some members of the NAM,” and that so far the NAM did not support such measures, according to an AFP report.
“We take this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support,” backing Iran’s “legitimate rights” to nuclear activities, Salehi added.
There are over 120 members in the Non-Aligned Movement, an organization created at the height of the Cold War as a political counterbalance to both the US and the USSR. Of those countries, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Zimbabwe are currently under some form of Western economic sanctions.
In his speech, Salehi reiterated Iran’s contention that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, not for developing a nuclear weapon as many in the West, and Israel, believe. “We are seeking a just solution and not solutions based on the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and other UN entities’ double standards. We take this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support in this regard,” he said.
It is widely assumed that during the summit, Iran will attempt to pass a resolution supporting independent countries’ rights to a peaceful nuclear program and condemning Western sanctions against countries operating outside the IAEA framework.
The summit is expected to bring together some 50 world leaders, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
Israel has lobbied for countries and Ban to skip the summit, which Iran is touting as a bulwark against international isolation. Iran, in addition to hosting the summit, is taking over the three-year rotating presidency of the organization from Egypt, in what it says is a sign that attempts to isolate the Islamic Republic internationally have not been successful.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Hamas had received an invitation to join the conference, although on Sunday officials from the Non-Aligned Movement and the Iranian state press denied the reports.
Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh’s acceptance of the invitation, reported on Saturday by AFP, drew sharp ire from Fatah officials in the Palestinian Authority, which said it was the only representative of the Palestinian people.
On Saturday, the Palestinian foreign minister said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would not participate it the summit if Hamas also attends. Riad Malki said the Palestinian Authority was seeking clarifications from Iran.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday called on Haniyeh not to accept the invitation, saying his attendance would be a stab in the back for Palestinian national unity.
On Sunday, AP reported that Haniyeh’s office in the Gaza Strip said that he planned to arrive in Tehran on Monday as guest of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Later Sunday, however, it was announced that Haniyeh would not attend.