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 News: Developing nations to slam US global cop role

Opinion / EditorialDeveloping nations to slam US global cop role
Reuters South Africa
By Anthony Boadle

HAVANA (Reuters) - Developing nations will denounce the United States' role as global policeman at a summit in Havana this week, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said on Sunday.

Perez Roque said the summit was not organized to attack the United States but developing countries could not remain silent over "unilateral" actions taken by Washington in policing the world since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

"This summit will denounce the threats of preventive wars, the proclaimed rights of the world's only superpower to occupy countries illegally and change regimes, and the existence of secret prisons for torture," he said at a news conference.

Diplomats said moderates like India and other nations friendly with Washington wanted no such finger-pointing at the United States during the summit.

Some 50 heads of state and government will attend the meeting of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Washington's longest-lasting ideological foe, may not be well enough to attend the meetings.

Perez Roque said he did not know if ...

Castro, who is recovering from stomach surgery in July, would be able to do more than receive in private some of the leaders expected in Havana.

"We cannot say yet whether he will be physically present in the work of the summit," he said.

Emergency intestinal surgery for an undisclosed illness forced Castro, 80, to turn over power temporarily to his younger brother, Raul, and left him 41 pounds (18 kg) thinner. Raul Castro will stand in for his brother at the summit.

Cuba's main leftist ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is seen as the political heir who will take up Castro's role of assailing Western capitalism in the name of the world's poor.


The presidents of Iran and Syria -- which the Bush administration sees as supporters of terrorism -- are expected in Havana as well as a high-ranking delegation from North Korea, which Bush has included in an "axis of evil."

The Non-Aligned Movement, which groups almost two-thirds of the member states of the United Nations, will back Iran's disputed nuclear program and endorse its right to use nuclear energy for peaceful ends, including the right to enrich uranium to produce electricity, Perez Roque said.

The Cuban minister criticized the "hypocritical double standard" of the United States and other Western nations that have tried to stop Iran's nuclear program while they "perfect" their own nuclear arsenals.

Cuba, the West's only surviving communist nation, takes over the chairmanship of the NAM from Malaysia for the next three years.

The movement was founded in Belgrade in 1961 by Third World nations to try to avoid alignment with either the United States or the Soviet Union. Its founders included Yugoslavia's Josip Broz Tito, India's Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and Indonesia's Sukarno.

Since the Cold War ended, the movement has struggled to find a purpose. Experts say it is handicapped by historical, cultural and religious divisions.

"It's a relic of the Cold War," said Riordan Roett, director of Western Hemisphere Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. "Allowing Cuba to head the movement indicates that it is pretty irrelevant, particularly under an ailing Fidel or an aging Raul."

"They clearly are not going to have the energy to do very much other than make statements."

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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