Iraq bows out as summit site

The nonaligned summit meeting that was to be held in Baghdad next month is the latest casualty in the 22-month Iran-Iraq war.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein says he will not insist that the 97-member movement meet in the Iraqi capital. Instead, he asked India to host the seventh summit. India has remained neutral in the Gulf war.

The move comes after Iranian efforts to have the summit switched to another location. There have also been threats by an Iran-backed extremist group that they would kill heads of state attending the conference.

President Hussein made extensive preparations to host the summit, and has made repeated public pledges that the meeting would go on despite vehement objections by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian leader.

The question of the summit has become an apparent side issue in the conflict between Iran and Iraq, which is raging in the desert near Basra.

The Iraqi President is expected to become the next chairman of the so-called nonaligned movement, and has counted on that position as a means of restoring his prestige as a leader in the Arab world and internationally.

The suggestion that the summit be moved to New Delhi first came from Cuba, whose president, Fidel Castro, is now chairman.

Mr. Hussein said his only concern was that the summit should take place and be successful, and that there should be no split in the nonaligned movement.

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