By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Guyana has been invited to the 16th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, which will be held in Tehran, Iran, from August 26 to 31. NAM is comprised of some 120 member states and 17 observer countries. Iran will assume the rotating presidency of the movement from Egypt for three years.
So far, the president of Guyana, Donald Ramotar, hasn’t made a decision on attending the summit himself. However, Guyana will attend but the level of participation hasn’t yet been decided, according to Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett. If the president himself won’t travel to Iran, then most likely Rodrigues-Birkett will have to sport a black chador again, and travel to Tehran, being very culturally and politically aware of the region, since she has been there several times.
A month ago, Iranian deputy foreign minister, Amir Mansour Borgehei was in Guyana to invite Ramotar to the upcoming summit. Guyana historically has been a major participant in the NAM forum and was host to a NAM foreign ministers meeting in 1972. Guyana attended all recent summits at the highest level -- Colombia, South Africa, and Cuba. However, the Malaysia and Egypt summits were attended at the foreign minister level.
Guyana/Iran ties have expanded to new levels. Ramotar visited Iran in 2010 during the presidential visit of former president, Bharrat Jagdeo. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad frequently visits Guyana’s neighbour Venezuela, but has never reciprocated with a visit to Guyana.
The United States is exerting tremendous pressure on world leaders not to attend this summit in Iran, in its quest to isolate the Islamic Republic. So far, Iran has announced that 31 heads of state have confirmed attendance. Most Gulf Arab states will send low level delegations. However, expected in Iran are the presidents of Azerbaijan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Serbia. India has confirmed Dr Manmohan Singh’s long awaited visit to Iran after 11 years by an Indian president. Pakistani President Asif Zardari will meet his Indian counterpart at the sidelines of the summit. Russian President Putin and Turkish President Abdullah Gul will attend as guests according to the Iranian press.