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World News

FACTBOX - Non-Aligned Movement meets in Iran

(Reuters) - Iran’s president called on Tuesday for a group of almost 120 developing countries to unite to end what he said was bias shown by world bodies such as the U.N. Security Council that served only the big powers’ interests.

“The major powers are on a descending course. The extent of their influence drops day by day. They are approaching the end of their era,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ministerial meeting.

Following are some facts about NAM:

ORIGIN:

* The Bandung Asian-African Conference in April 1955 was instrumental in founding the Non-Aligned Movement. That meeting gathered delegates from 29 countries, many newly independent from their colonial rulers.

FOUNDING SUMMIT:

* The NAM was formally set up in 1961 in Belgrade by developing countries that chose not to align with the United States or Soviet Union to avoid becoming caught up in Cold War politics. Twenty-five countries were represented.

* The founding fathers were President Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, President Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, President Achmad Sukarno of Indonesia and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.

* Nasser, a champion of Arab nationalism, was a hero to Arabs for defying the United States and colonial powers Britain and France in the 1950s and 1960s. “We don’t want to become a part of any sphere of influence for any power. That is what the United States has tried to do with us,” he said.

NAM TODAY:

* The movement now has 118 member states, but has struggled to stay relevant since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union’s collapse reduced the world to one superpower.

* After the September 11 attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush told the world there could be no such thing as neutrality in U.S. eyes.

THE TEHRAN MEETING:

* At the opening ceremony on Sunday for the Tehran ministerial meeting, which runs to Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki asked NAM to support Iran’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council for 2009 and 2010.

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