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Iran to chair group of 133 developing countries

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Iran was elected by acclamation on Friday to the chairmanship of the influential Third World coalition called the Group of 77, which now numbers 133 developing countries.

The election took place at the annual meeting of the group's foreign ministers, now in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

Iran, which takes over the chairmanship in January, will succeed Nigeria.

The Group of 77, comprising about 70 percent of the United Nations' 189 members, serves as a focal point for the developing world to promote its collective interests and enhance its joint negotiating capacity on international economic issues.

The group was established in 1964 by 77 developing countries that signed a declaration at the end of the first session of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who attended the group's closed-door meeting, said a declaration adopted at a G77 summit in Havana in April enabled their heads of state and government to come to a U.N. Millennium Summit last week with a clear and unified message.

``It was a message of pain -- the pain felt by so many of the world's peoples at the injustice of the world we live in, and the needless misery to which so many of our fellow human beings are condemned,'' Annan said.

A declaration adopted by the U.N. Summit reproduced many points from the G77 Summit, he added.

``It is in your interest, therefore, to ensure that the United Nations in the new century does indeed become a more effective instrument -- one that will make a real difference to people's lives,'' Annan said.


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