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NAM summit opens in Tehran
Iran claims it has thwarted global isolation

Senior official delegations attend the opening session of the expert-level meeting of XVI summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran on Sunday.
Senior official delegations attend the opening session of the expert-level meeting of XVI summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran on Sunday. AFP

Dubai, August 26
Iran welcomed a group of 120 developing nations to the NAM summit that began in Tehran today. It claimed the participation by such a large number of nations in the summit proved that Washington had failed to isolate it from the rest of the world.

Opening the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting in Tehran, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he hoped for a show of solidarity against sanctions the West has imposed to punish Iran for its nuclear activities.

"The non-aligned (movement) must seriously oppose ... unilateral economic sanctions which have been enacted by certain countries against non-aligned countries," Salehi told the summit's opening session.

Western diplomats have sought to downplay the importance of the summit and the start of Iran's three-year presidency of NAM, a body set up in 1961 to counter big power domination of international relations.

But 80 countries are participating in the summit at the level of minister or higher, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, with 50 sending their heads of government.

And the expected attendance of big players, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Egypt's new president, Mohammad Mursi, the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, will give the meeting diplomatic heft.

Since the toppling of Egypt's Western-backed President Hosni Mubarak last year, non-Arab Iran has hoped for a thaw in relations with the regional power, but Cairo has appeared less eager to embrace Shi'ite Muslim Iran which is viewed with suspicion by its Sunni Gulf Arab neighbours.

"The presence of the Egyptian president in Tehran will help develop Tehran-Cairo relations," Mehmanparast told reporters. Divisions within the Muslim Middle East were also evident when Tehran moved to deny media reports that it had invited Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

"From Palestine, only Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has been invited to Tehran for participation in this summit, and an official invitation has not been sent to any other individual," Mehr quoted Mehmanparast as saying.

With the Syrian crisis likely to dominate talks, Iran's support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is using heavy weaponry against an uprising that threatens to have repercussions around the region, is likely to face scrutiny.

Mehmanparast said Iran expected to consult with countries on the sidelines of the summit on a "comprehensive package" to resolve the Syria crisis.

Tehran has declared a five-day holiday in the capital to ease traffic pressures and potential security problems.

Conservative cleric Ahmad Khatami warned opposition activists, in an interview published last week, not to use the NAM summit as a chance to rekindle their protests which brought huge numbers to the streets in 2009 to protest against the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

An opposition group based outside the country has asked U.N. chief Ban to ask to meet opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi who have been held under house arrest since February 2011 as the Arab Spring uprisings raged in the Middle East. Reuters

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Iran displays blast-hit cars of murdered scientists

TEHRAN: Iran today adopted a unique method to protest the assassinations of its top nuclear scientists by displaying some of the victims' blast-shredded cars at the entrance to the venue in Tehran where the officials from NAM-member states met.

The organisers of the 16th NAM summit placed at least three blast-shredded cars of the murdered nuclear scientists at the main entrance of the venue to protest their killings.

Five Iranian nuclear scientists, including a manager at the Natanz enrichment facility, have been killed since 2010. Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemistry expert and director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, became the latest victim when he was killed in a bomb attack in January 2012.

The killings of Iranian nuclear scientists began with the assassination of Masoud Ali Mohammadi.

Iran's current Vice-President Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani survived an assassination attempt on November 29, 2010. But a separate bomb attack the same day killed Majid Shahriari, a nuclear engineer who worked with the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran. PTI

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