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Argentina Withdraws from Non-Aligned Movement

September 20, 1991

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Argentina has pulled out of the non-aligned movement, and President Carlos Menem says the group has no reason to exist following the demise of the Soviet Union as a superpower.

″Argentina can’t belong to a movement that doesn’t respect human rights, freedom of the press or political pluralism,″ Menem told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Thursday at which the pullout was approved.

The non-aligned movement, with the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and socialist economies elsewhere, ″has no reason to exist,″ Menem said.

Argentina’s withdrawal had been expected, and Menem had been criticizing the organization for months.

The movement is a forum launched in 1956 by Third World nations seeking a political voice and economic development strategy other than communism or capitalism. Argentina joined in 1973, when Juan Domingo Peron was president.

Menem, a Peronist party member, denied reports that he pushed for the change mostly to please the United States, a major political partner since his July 1989 election and the frequent butt of criticism from the non-aligned movement.

Argentina’s withdrawal ″is totally a gesture of sovereignty,″ Menem said.

He seeks U.S. approval of Argentina’s entry into the Brady plan for foreign debt reduction. On Wednesday, the Paris Club - an informal group of Western creditor nations including the United States - rescheduled $1.5 billion of Argentina’s debt over 10 years.

With U.S. backing, the Menem government last month was awarded a $1.04 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The money is crucial to finance Menem’s program of economic reforms.

And under a recent U.S.-Argentine agreement, U.S. Peace Corps volunteers will go to Argentina early next year for the first time in the service group’s 30-year history.

Several Peronist lawmakers argued against Argentina’s pullout from the non- aligned movement. They said the movement usually supported Argentina on issues it considered vital, such as Argentina’s claim to the British- administered Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

Argentina’s departure leaves the movement with 102 members.

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