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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 February, 2003, 11:57 GMT
Developing world split over Iraq
Malaysian policeman guards the entrance to the summit in Kuala Lumpur
66 national leaders are due to attend next week's summit
Non-aligned countries have softened a controversial declaration on the Iraq crisis after criticism that the original version was too supportive of Baghdad.

Correspondents say the new draft drops paragraphs proposed by Arab countries which condemned US "aggression" and urged the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to show "solidarity" with Iraq.

The declaration is to be submitted to the NAM heads of state, whose two-day summit meeting opens in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

It is the first summit held by the 114-member movement since 1995.

The NAM embraces 55% of the world's population, and almost two-thirds of United Nations members - most of them developing nations.

Quest for new role

A Middle Eastern delegate quoted by the AFP news agency said the new draft contained a "clear mention" of UN Resolution 1441 demanding that Iraq disarm.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed
Malaysia's leader wants to revitalise the movement
"The language is now more balanced. It is better," said the delegate, who was not named.

But the draft is still reported to express "grave concern" over a possible US-led invasion of Iraq.

Earlier, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the world was dominated increasingly by one superpower, which was bringing it to the brink of a conflict opposed by most people.

The NAM was set up in 1955 to provide an alternative forum for developing countries during the Cold War, but has lost much of its influence since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

The BBC's Jonathan Kent, in Kuala Lumpur, says the movement will have to work hard if it is to transform itself into a modern voice.

Delegates include representatives from Iraq, Iran and North Korea - three countries described by US President George Bush as an "axis of evil".

Ali Alatas, the former Indonesian foreign minister and a delegate to the conference, told the BBC there would be "a very strong appeal to Iraq to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions".

Chandra Muzaffer, a Malaysian political commentator, said he thought the NAM should go further and become "a movement which eschews war as an instrument of foreign policy".

"There should be no war in Iraq under any circumstances, even if that war is sanctioned by the UN, because the UN has been used as a fig leaf... to service the purposes of hegemonic powers," he told the BBC's East Asia Today.



The BBC's David Chazan
"(Iraq) dismissed the United States as a colonial warmonger"

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