Promising full cooperation to Iran as it leads the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) over the next three years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his speech on the opening day of the XVIth summit, in a reference to Syria spoke against external intervention.

India supported popular aspirations for a democratic and pluralistic order but interventions from outside rather than achieving this aim tended to exacerbate the suffering of ordinary citizens. As the deteriorating situation in Syria was a matter of particular concern, the NAM, which he described as “our movement’’, should take a stand on the issue in keeping with universally accepted principles. “We should urge all parties to recommit themselves to resolving the crisis peacefully through a Syrian-led inclusive political process that can meet the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian citizens,’’ he observed.

On the Palestinian question, he felt NAM should renew its pledge to support its early resolution so that its “long suffering people’’ could live in peace and dignity in a state of their own. The Prime Minister’s reference to the Palestine issue came against a concerted effort by Israel and some of its Western allies through a section of the media and diplomatic demarches to belittle the NAM summit and its host country Iran.

Apart from these hard political topics of the day, the Prime Minister touched on the Summit’s theme of “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance’’ and the areas where NAM should reorient itself. The structures for global governance remained driven by the power equations of the past and their inadequacy in dealing with the ongoing economic and political crises was “not surprising’’.

In the past, as individual nation states, NAM members may have had little economic and military clout but the collective voice and reasoned interventions of “our Movement’’ commanded respect and credibility. He wanted that voice to again find “true expression’’ on a variety of issues including developing new instruments of global governance (reform of the United Nations Security Council, the World Bank and the IMF), international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, piracy and threats to cyber security. At the same time it should ensure that the economic crisis should not lead to a dilution of development assistance flows from the developed world.

Describing Africa, which had provided the intellectual wellspring for many of the leaders of the NAM, as having a special place in the Movement, the Prime Minister invited interested members to work with India in areas of priority to Africa (New Delhi has already joined hands with the US for the purpose in select countries).

He concluded by acknowledging differing views among NAM members on different issues but was confident that that the deliberations in Tehran will be helpful in restoring this historic Movement to its rightful place on the international stage.