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NAM should help tackle Syria crisis, slowdown: PM

August 28, 2012 15:57 IST
Underlining the relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said NAM should help in tackling key political and economic challenges, including worsening situation in Syria and a persistent global economic slowdown.

Heading to Tehran on a four-day visit to attend the 16th NAM Summit, Dr Singh also lamented that the outdated structures of global governance have not been able to keep pace with contemporary political and economic challenges.

The PM's remarks come in the backdrop of questions being raised over the relevance of 120-nation NAM in today's time and age.

"There is widespread recognition that the outdated structures of global governance have not been able to keep pace with contemporary political and economic challenges. Many of these challenges, such as the worsening situation in Syria, a persistent global economic slowdown, and other new and emerging threats, require credible trans-national action...

"I will stress that our Movement should provide a strong political impetus to the ongoing efforts to reform and democratise global governance structures, which are critical to tackle these challenges more effectively," he said.

Undertaking his much-watched out visit, the first in a decade by an Indian Prime Minister, Dr Singh will also hold meetings with the Iranian leadership, including Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during which he will review bilateral relations.

Dr Singh's bilateral meetings with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad assume significance as they will take place at a time when the US is pushing India to reduce engagement with Iran and implement sanctions imposed by some countries over its controversial nuclear programme.

While the West has been trying to underplay Iran hosting the NAM Summit, Tehran sees the event as a major diplomatic achievement.

Iran has been slapped with a number of sanctions by the United States and the other western nations, which accuse it of pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme. However, Iran denies the charge and says its nuclear programme is for peaceful use.

Besides focusing on regional security situation, trade and economic cooperation are likely to be high on the agenda of bilateral interactions of the PM with a special stress on oil imports.

Iran is one of the key suppliers for oil for energy-starved India. While India recognises only United Nations-imposed sanctions, those levied by the US and other countries have become a major stumbling block in making payments to Iran for oil imports.

Ahead of the meeting between India and Iran, New Delhi has made it very clear that discussion on peace and security will be of the paramount concern, which will be raised with Tehran.

"Peace and security is, indeed, our primary concern given just how important the entire West Asia region, Gulf region, in particular, is for India's security and for Indian economy, both in terms of oil imports and our exports. So, this is our own concern and we don't have to take anybody else's concern as priority," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai had said in New Delhi.

Dr Singh is also likely to hold meetings with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who would be attending the summit. He would be the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 revolution.

Dr Singh said he was also looking forward to his bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries during which he will exchange views on regional and global issues.

Dr Singh said, "I will emphasise 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."

During the entire period of Cold War, he said NAM constituted a "voice of reason and sanity which while avoiding entanglement in a destructive and wasteful confrontation was at the forefront of lessening of tensions".

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