New tone of the nonaligned

The 101 ''nonaligned'' nations wrapped up their conference in New Delhi with the usual political statements about superpower disarmament and US foreign policy. But worldwide recession and a growing realism have taken the sharp edge out of the rhetoric and replaced it with something more temperate in tone. That is all to the good. The less confrontationalism there is in the world, even if only verbal, the more likely everyone - rich and poor, East and West, aligned and nonaligned - will get down to finding cooperative solutions to mutual problems.

The West should take note that there now is more stress on self-reliance and on ''South-South'' (not just North-South) dialogue, and less strident demand for a new international economic order. Despite their deep frustration about lack of economic progress, for instance, the nonaligned rejected a proposal that might lead to refusal to repay Western lenders and set aside their traditional calls for global negotiations to redistribute wealth. Also, their suggestions for changes in the International Monetary Fund and other financial bodies seemed to imply a readiness to be cooperative.

It can be hoped that, as the third-world nations moderate their attitudes, they will not be forgotten by the ''aligned'' brethren.

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