Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Castro receiving "distinguished visitors'' during Cuba summit

eitb 24

NONALIGNED MOVEMENT

09/06/2006

Among the well-known leaders attending are Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and Bashar Assad of Syria, as well as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will join more than 50 heads of state at next week's summit of the Nonaligned Movement in Havana, a foreign ministry official said Tuesday.

The United Nations was invited "as a courtesy'' and Annan will participate as an observer, as in previous summits, Abelardo Moreno, Cuba's vice foreign minister, told journalists at a news conference.

Moreno said the United States was also invited, but declined to say who would head that delegation. He also said he did not know whether Cuba's ailing leader Fidel Castro would be able to host the event, which begins Monday.

Most of the 116 members of the Third-World movement of countries from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America will be represented at the group's summit, which culminates in a meeting of the nations' leaders Sept. 15 and 16.

Raul Castro may host the event

The only member that declined attendance was Comoros Islands, which can't make it for financial reasons, Moreno said.

Among other well-known leaders attending are Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and Bashar Assad of Syria, as well as Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh of India and Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand.

Castro, recovering from intestinal surgery, said he would be receiving "distinguished visitors'' in upcoming days in a message printed Tuesday in Cuba's Communist party daily Granma. But it was unclear whether the 80-year-old would be well enough to host the event.

In his absence, his brother Raul Castro, currently in charge of the country, is expected to take his place.

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