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IRAN: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks tough against the West

July 29, 2008 | 10:22 am


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a typically fiery speech today, attempting to rally together nonWestern nations on his country's behalf.

Ahmadinejad has become popular in the Third World for his rhetorical defiance of the United States and Israel. He called on the world's poorer nations to band together against the power of the West, which he accused of a number of things, including excessive bullying and exacerbating the AIDS crisis.

Ahmadinejad delivered the keynote speech to foreign ministers attending a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in the Iranian capital Tehran.

Here are excerpts from the Associated Press report:

The big powers are going down. They have come to the end of their power, and the world is on the verge of entering a new, promising era. ... The rich and powerful countries continue to exercise an inordinate influence in determining the nature and direction of international relations, including economic and trade relations, as well as rules governing these relations, many of which are at the expense of developing countries.

The 118-member NAM includes many developing or Third World countries with a critical view of the West. It was created in the 1950s, when developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific began throwing off the shackles of their colonial overlords.

Iran, the host of this year's meeting, is locked in a diplomatic standoff with the West over its nuclear program, which the United States wants curtailed. Tehran wants to persuade other countries to vote Iran in as a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council, where it could try to forestall another round of sanctions if the ongoing negotiations break down.

But many doubt the gambit will work. The United States has strong ties to many of the NAM leaders, including influential and populous India. There, the ruling party recently won a no-confidence vote brought about by a controversy over signing a landmark nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, D.C.

Certainly, India's not going to break its centuries-old ties with Iran or disrupt valuable gas imports from the Islamic Republic to keep American leaders happy. But it's not going to wreck a budding relationship with Washington just so Iran has a bigger platform to rail against the United States.

Still, the diplomatic maneuvering is a lot less rattling to the nerves of those in the region than the military muscle-flexing prevalent not so long ago.

-- Borzou Daragahi

Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the 15th foreign ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran. Credit: Abedin Taherkenareh / European Pressphoto Agency