NEW YORK, Aug 30 ( – This week and next seem to be the time for international conferences. The Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments has brought lawmakers from more than one 140 countries to the United States today for a three-day meeting ahead of the Millennium Summit, reports Associated Press. This conference, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, however, is being marred, at least in the minds of the organizers, by the lack of participation from the U.S. as well as America’s decision to bar the speaker of Cuba’s National Assembly from coming.

The IPU says all its member parliaments are democratically elected, but “human rights experts have questioned the democratic credentials of some participating countries – including Iraq, Congo, and Yugoslavia,” says AP. The U.S. State Department told AP it has also denied visas for an Iranian and a Yugoslav delegate to the meeting, but it is allowing entry by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Saadoun Hammadi.

The IPU hopes the meeting will build a stronger relationship with the United Nations. “We have come here with a full commitment and support to the United Nations,” Najma Heptulla, president of the IPU’s policy-making Inter-Parliamentary Council, said Tuesday. “We want to stress that democracy is the only way for redressal of people’s problems.”

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