Vice President Hamid Ansari on Thursday left for Venezuela to attend the 17th NAM Summit during which key issues of concern like terrorism, UN reform, climate change and nuclear disarmament are expected to be discussed.
Ansari is leading the Indian delegation in the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is only the second Indian Premier to give the Cold War-era bloc’s summit a miss after Charan Singh in 1979.
The summit, which started on Tuesday and will end on September 18, is taking place in Venezuela’s Margarita Island and has meetings scheduled in three consecutive segments– officials-level, foreign ministers’ meet, and a conference of heads of state and government.
Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar is already in Venezuela to take part in the deliberations while Ansari will reach the country after an overnight halt in Berlin.
“The summit is expected to deliberate on issues of contemporary relevance and concern such as terrorism, UN reform, the situation in West Asia, threats to peace and security,” according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
UN peacekeeping operations, climate change, sustainable development, economic governance, south-south cooperation, refugees and migrants, and nuclear disarmament will also be discussed, the statement said.
“All these issues are of relevance in the context of the discussions that will take place at the United Nations in coming months,” it said.
The Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Margarita is expected to bring together leaders from 120 developing countries that are its members. The NAM Summits are among the largest gatherings of countries, after the United Nations.
NAM is also an important forum for interaction with partner countries across continents, including from Africa, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs), with whom India has long-standing development partnerships in a spirit of south-south cooperation, the statement said.
“NAM continues to represent space for action in pursuance of the collective interests of the developing world, along with the G-77, especially on subject such as the reform of the global economic system and disarmament. At the United Nations, the NAM is an influential grouping on a range of issues such as UN peacekeeping and disarmament,” it said.
At the start of the summit on Tuesday, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said NAM-Venezuela in 2016, will defend the right of the peoples of the world to fight for peace and sovereignty.
Emancipation, anti-Imperialism and peace are the flags that define the summit, she had said.
India also has a close bilateral engagement with Venezuela, the host of the 17th NAM Summit.
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Rodriguez had led a high-level delegation to India last month when she had personally extended the invitation for India to attend the NAM Summit. She also held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the visit.
India is one of the founding members of the Non Aligned Movement and it had hosted the 7th NAM Summit in 1983 in New Delhi. The last NAM Summit was hosted by Iran in 2012.
The NAM comprises 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 2 from Europe (Belarus, Azerbaijan). There are 17 countries and 10 international organizations that are Observers at NAM.
The Non Aligned Movement came into being 55 years ago when leaders of 25 developing countries met at the 1961 Belgrade Conference.
The summit comes amid political and economic turmoil in the oil-rich country which has skidded into crisis as global crude prices have plunged since mid-2014, pushing President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist model to the brink.