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. NKorea, Iran nuclear issues in spotlight at Non-Aligned meet in Cuba
HAVANA, Sept 17 (AFP) Sep 17, 2006
North Korea charged that US threats drove it to acquire deterrent atomic weapons, and Iran won solid support in its nuclear row at a summit that concluded in Havana early Sunday.

On the sidelines, nuclear powers India and Pakistan held historic talks, deciding to relaunch peace negotiations that had been frozen since deadly bombings in Mumbai in July.

National leaders agreed on the need to counter overwhelming US influence, and several leaders launched blistering attacks on the United States during the summit, which Cuba's ailing President Fidel Castro sat out

But Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi insisted the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was not "anti-any country."

"I do not see this summit as anti-US," he said, stressing there were differences of opinion within the 118-state movement.

North Korea charged that the United States left it no option but to secure deterrent nuclear weapons, and pledged that as long as it was hit by US sanctions it would not be back in talks.

"The United States, far from complying with the six-party commission's agreements, has continued to impose unilateral sanctions, sending the talks to a standstill," said Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

He claimed Washington was "threatening Korea using all sorts of maneuvers, accusing it of being part of an 'Axis of Evil'," and added: "Korea has nuclear arms as a deterrent to firmly guarantee the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region."

Heads of state and government from 56 countries and delegates from the other member states adopted a voluminous final declaration backing Iran's right to nuclear energy; urging UN reform to give greater weight to poor countries; opposing terrorism and what they see as US interventionism.

"Our countries have the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said.

Meanwhile, Cuban Interim President Raul Castro met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to express "Cuba's support for the right of Iran -- or any other country -- for peaceful use of nuclear energy."

At the opening of the summit, the minister had told the national leaders Castro was not well enough to attend the gathering.

But the communist strongman did receive several of the dignitaries in a hospital-like room, clad in pajamas and looking gaunt.

Raul Castro, 75, long Cuba's defense chief, officially heads Cuba while his bearded sibling recovers from gastrointestinal surgery he underwent in July, and chaired the summit.

"Once he is fully capable of resuming his duties, Fidel will be the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement," Perez Roque said.

Among the prominent leaders speaking at the two-day summit was Ahmadinejad, who insisted Tehran's controversial atomic program had strictly peaceful objectives, and claimed the United States was the real nuclear threat.

Raul Castro, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, also delivered harsh condemnations of US policies, while Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for "moderation, harmony and reason."

Perez Roque slammed the United States for putting Cuba on its list of nations supporting terrorism "for defending itself," he said, while not including Israel which he said had killed many civilians.

"That is the hypocritical act of a superpower," the top Cuban diplomat said.

The NAM document also condemned what it terms Israel's "unlawful" policies in the Palestinian territories and its recent military intervention in Lebanon.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed at their breakthrough talks to resume negotiations on the disputed Kashmir region and to jointly battle terrorism.

The next NAM summit will be held in 2009 in Egypt.

Many of the summit participants headed from here to New York, where they will take part next week in the UN General Assembly.

The Iranian president, meanwhile, headed first to Venezuela for talks with Chavez.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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