WASHINGTON (AP) - There is an almost guess-who's-coming-to-dinner quality to the visit to South Africa this weekend by veteran U.S. diplomat Princeton Lyman.
Lyman will break new ground by becoming the first American official to attend a summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, an assemblage of 113 mostly Third World countries.
Since its founding more than 40 years ago, the NAM has been a strictly non-American conclave. It was begun in the mid-1950s by countries aligned with neither the United States nor the Soviet Union that wanted a grouping independent of both.
Lyman will be there as an observer, joining 30 to 40 heads of state in the South African coastal city of Durban.
Lyman is a former ambassador to South Africa who heads the State Department bureau that deals with international organizations. He will use the opportunity to explain to conference delegates the U.S. position on such issues as non-proliferation and terrorism.
Following the bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, ``we hope people will take note of the terrorism issue in a more important way,'' Lyman said in an interview.
His counterparts are expected to press Lyman on their concerns over developmental and environmental issues.
There are at least two delegates with whom Lyman will not be meeting: Cuban President Fidel Castro and Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.
High on Lyman's agenda will be an effort to persuade delegates not to follow the path of India and Pakistan, both of which carried out nuclear tests in May.
Lyman will try to make the point that unrestrained nuclear weapons development serves no one's security interests.
``The core non-proliferation process is important to the security of NAM members,'' he said.
Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan are both expected to attend the conference to defend their respective nuclear policies.
Early on, participation at Non-Aligned summits was limited to countries
not allied militarily to either the United States or the Soviet Union.
But under the new, more relaxed post-Cold War standards, several American
military allies will join the United States as observers. They include
Britain, Germany and Japan.