Iran Hosts Non-Aligned Summit Despite Sanctions

Posted August 23rd, 2012 at 11:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Representatives of nearly 120 nations, including dozens of heads-of-state, will convene in Tehran next week for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Some leaders will attend the summit even as they help enforce the sanctions that are crippling Iran's economy.

Analysts will be watching to see whether the meeting improves Iran's position in global diplomacy. The U.S. State Department says Iran will try to manipulate the Non-Aligned Movement at the summit, and try to divert attention from its defiance of several U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The summit will convene with a speech by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who usually meets only with Islamic officials.

That would appear to underline the importance of this meeting to Iran at a time when, if not for the summit, most world leaders would not visit the country, or even trade with it.

The Non-Aligned Movement is a Cold War organization that was supposed to provide a forum for countries that were allied with neither the United States nor the Soviet Union.

But from its origins in the 1950s there were members that did not fit that description, and since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 the group has struggled for both identity and clout.

Now, its system of rotating leadership has put it back in the spotlight, as its summit is set for Tehran at a time of strong United Nations sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program.