The 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) kicked off here this morning with a call to uphold the spirit of the forum and strengthen cooperation among its member states.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the two-day summit of the NAM, a forum of 120 developing countries, at Baku Congress Centre in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the opening ceremony of the summit along with other heads of state and government and representatives of the member states of the NAM at the Plenary Hall of Baku Cengress Centre.
On her arrival at the centre at 10 am, Sheikh Hasina was received by the Azerbaijan president.
The other world leaders who joined the summit included Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammed, Djibouti President Ismail Omar, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Pakistani President Arif Alvi, Indian Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic, Afghan resident Ashraf Ghani, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the current chairperson of the NAM, delivered the opening remarks at the inaugural session of the summit.
After his speech, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev was elected chairman unopposed of the NAM for the next three years.
After being elected the chairman, he pledged to build the NAM on the basis of Bandung principles.
President of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande also spoke at the opening session of the summit.
The hosts of the summit Azerbaijan, located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia and populated by 10 million people, is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, where 96 percent of its citizens are Muslims.
At the outset of the opening session of the summit, a minute's silence was observed as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the NAM leaders who passed away since the 17th NAM Summit held in Venezuela in 2016.
The theme of general debate of the 18th NAM is "Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world".
Sheikh Hasina will join Working Luncheon for heads of the delegation at the Luncheon Hall of the centre and the Plenary Session.
In the evening, the prime minister will attend the official reception to be hosted by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev at Heydar Aliyev Center.
On the sidelines of the NAM Summit, the prime minister will call on his Malaysian counterpart Dr Mahathir Mohammed this afternoon.
The NAM is a forum of 120 developing world states that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. It has 17 observer countries and 10 observer organisations.
The forum is the second biggest organization after the UN. Today, approximately 55 percent of the world's population lives in the NAM member-states.
These countries possess more than 75 percent of the world's oil reserves and more than 50 percent of gas reserves, as well as the biggest human and natural resources.
Drawing on the principles agreed at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955, the NAM was established in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia through an initiative of the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and ex-Yugoslav President Josip roz Tito.
Venezuela's Margarita Island hosted the 17th NAM Summit in 2016.
NAM was founded during the collapse of the colonial system and the independence struggles of the peoples of Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions of the world and at the height of the Cold War.
Its actions were a key factor in the decolonisation process, which later led to the attainment of freedom and independence by many countries and people and to the founding of tens of new sovereign states.
Throughout its history, the NAM has played a fundamental role in the preservation of world peace and security.
The chairmanship of NAM will be built on three main priorities, among others increasing the effectiveness of the Movement to further enhance the reputation of the organisation on the global stage.
Other priorities are the promotion of the Bandung principles and the strengthening of the unity within the Movement.