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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 08:31 GMT
Non-aligned summit opens
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
Malaysia has taken over the NAM's presidency
The summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has opened in Malaysia with a warning over a possible war against Iraq.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, chairman of the summit, said that war solved nothing.

He told the assembly that "there must be a new world order in which power is shared equitably by all".

"No single nation should be allowed to police the world, least of all to decide what action to take when," he said.

He said that the poor countries of the world had been terrorised by the rich and, in turn, this had resulted in the growth of terrorist movements.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, the outgoing NAM chairman, said the possibility of war was a threat not only to the Iraqi people, but to all poor people all over the world.

He said it removed from the poor and weak everywhere the right as human beings to decide their own future.

'Double standards'

The 13th summit of non-aligned countries has brought together the leaders of 116 nations - representing around half the world's population.

Delegates were told that world peace and stability demanded that Iraq co-operate with UN weapons inspectors. But the meeting also demanded the world's powerful nations respect those inspectors' findings.

It is no longer just a war against terrorism. It is in fact a war to dominate the world
Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Malaysian Prime Minister

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the summit that weapons inspections were beginning to yield results and that he believed war was not yet inevitable.

Dr Mahathir called for war to be outlawed, and attacked colonialism, globalisation and the west's treatment of Muslims.

He pointed to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as a major cause of the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

He said religious extremists were only reacting to what he called the blatant double standards of the west.

Also on the summit's agenda was North Korea's decision to end its membership of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Pyongyang said was down to the need to defend itself against what it called US hostility.

Delegates have backed down from an attempt to put pressure on North Korea to drop its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

A resolution to be presented at the summit is expected to say NAM leaders simply "noted the withdrawal" of North Korea from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.



The BBC's Jonathan Head
"The sentiment is largely anti-war"

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