updated 9/16/2006 8:05:06 PM ET 2006-09-17T00:05:06

North Korea’s No. 2 leader blamed the lack of world peace on the United States at the Nonaligned Summit on Saturday, saying its failure to respect the sovereignty of other nations has destroyed “the international order.”

Parliament leader Kim Yong Nam said desires for peace by the 118 countries in the Nonaligned Movement were “confronted with grave challenges owing to the high-handed acts and unilateralism of the superpower, which denies countries and nations the independent choice of development.”

The resulting imbalance in global politics constitutes “grave threats to world peace and security,” he said.

It was the latest anti-American statement at a meeting that has brought together some of the staunchest U.S. foes, including the presidents of Iran, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The summit opened Friday when Cuba took over the three-year leadership of the group from Malaysia. Cuba’s Defense Minister Raul Castro stood in place of his ailing brother, Fidel Castro, who is recovering from intestinal surgery.

The United States has declined an invitation to attend the summit in Havana and said it would have no comment on any of the proceedings.

No public appearance by Castro
Fidel Castro has yet to make an appearance at the summit, but has met with individual leaders in private, including U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Photos and video of the one-on-one encounters in Cuban state media show Castro in his pajamas — an unusual sight.

Kim also defended the North’s nuclear program amid concerns the communist country may be preparing to carry out an atomic weapons test.

North Korea “has been left with no other option but to possess nuclear weapons as a self-defensive deterrent,” he said. “The DPRK would not need even a single nuclear weapon if there no longer existed a U.S. threat.”

DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

Kim said U.S. financial restrictions aimed at Pyongyang have created a deadlock in six-nation talks on its nuclear program, pushing the issue into “an unpredictable phase.”

Recently, the United States has moved to sever North Korea’s connections to outside banks, alleging any transactions conducted by the Pyongyang regime are suspect and could be connected to illegal activity — including money laundering and counterfeiting U.S. dollars.

Nuclear talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States were last held in November, when negotiators failed to make progress on implementing an agreement in which the North pledged to give up its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

“The DPRK will never go back to the talks under U.S. sanctions,” Kim said.

Iraq’s vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, asked the movement for a statement calling on all countries to stop interfering in Iraq and to recognize the sovereignty of his nation’s land and airspace. He complained that “life has degenerated” in his country and Iraqi’s are suffering because “a war machine has destroyed the infrastructure.”

Despite the Iraqi government’s dependence on U.S.-led forces in Iraq, he said other Nonaligned nations can count on Iraq’s membership in the movement. “Our presence here is an indication of our choice international relations,” he said.

Also Saturday, Pakistan and India agreed to restart peace talks that were suspended after train bombings killed more than 200 people in Mumbai in July — part of a wave of attacks India blames on Pakistan-based militants.

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to Cabinet-level talks by their foreign secretaries after meeting on the sidelines of the summit. Singh also accepted an invitation to travel to Pakistan to further the peace process.

‘Purposeful visit’
“I look forward to a purposeful visit at a time to be determined through diplomatic channels,” Singh said after the meeting with Musharraf.

The Pakistani leader added: “We had a cordial, frank exchange of views on all aspects of India and Pakistan relations. It was agreed that the peace process must be obtained.”

New Delhi blames Pakistan’s support of the militants for stalling the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbors, which have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

More than a dozen militant groups are fighting to make Kashmir independent from Hindu-majority India or merge it with Muslim-dominated Pakistan. The insurgency has claimed 65,000 lives.

The Nonaligned Movement was formed during the Cold War to establish a neutral third path in a world divided by the United States and the Soviet Union.

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