Vice President Hamid Ansari will lead the Indian delegation at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Venezuela this month, it was announced on Wednesday. This will be the first time after 1979 that the Indian Prime Minister won’t be attending a NAM Summit.
Ansari will head the delegation to Margarita Island, the External Affairs Ministry said.
“The Summit on September 17-18 will be preceded by deliberations at the ministerial and senior official levels,” a statement said.
Last month, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez visited New Delhi and extended an official invitation to India to attend the Summit.
Wednesday’s announcement means Prime Minister Narendra Modi won’t be going to Venezuela. The last time an Indian Prime Minister did not attend a NAM Summit was in 1979 when Charan Singh was the caretaker Prime Minister.
The year’s summit is expected to bring together leaders from the 120 developing countries that are members of NAM.
“The NAM Summits are among the largest gathering of countries, after the United Nations,” the ministry statement said.
India, one of the founding members of the Movement, hosted the 7th NAM Summit in 1983 in New Delhi. The last NAM Summit was hosted by Iran in 2012.
NAM today comprises 53 countries from Africa, 39 from Asia, 26 from Latin America and the Caribbean and two from Europe.
There are 17 countries and 10 international organisations that are observers at NAM, which came into being 55 years ago when leaders of 25 developing countries met at the 1961 Belgrade Conference.
“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, UN peacekeeping operations, climate change, sustainable development, economic governance, South-South cooperation, refugees and migrants, and nuclear disarmament,” the statement said.
It said that NAM was also an important forum for interaction with partner countries across continents, including from Africa, CARICOM, small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries LDCs, with whom India has longstanding development partnerships in a spirit of South-South cooperation.
“NAM continues to represent space for action in pursuance of the collective interests of the developing world, along with the G-77, especially on subjects such as the reform of the global economic system and disarmament,” the statement said.