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Cablegate: Interfaith Dialogue Conference in Spain

VZCZCXRO1322
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHJS RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHTRO
DE RUEHC #2693 1892211
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 072216Z JUL 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 9172
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 8139
INFO ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH 5324
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2395

UNCLAS STATE 072693

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNGA KIRF KISL SP SA
SUBJECT: INTERFAITH DIALOGUE CONFERENCE IN SPAIN

REF: A. USUN 555
B. STATE 70306

1. Summary and Action Request: Department requests that
action addressees report on the Interfaith Dialogue
Conference, which will be held in Spain on July 16-18. This
conference may serve as the forerunner for a UNGA Special
Session this fall on the same topic. The Department would
therefore appreciate reporting on all aspects of the July
16-18 conference, including preparations, attendees/sponsors,
conference proceedings, and media coverage/final statements.
Department would also appreciate reporting on direct
consultations with the Saudi and Spanish governments
regarding the event. Per ref B, posts should avoid taking any
position on the proposed UNGA Special Session itself. End
Summary and Action Request.

2. (U) Background: The government of Spain has agreed to
serve as logistical host for a Muslim World League (MWL)
Interfaith Dialogue Conference on July 16-18, 2008. According
to a release by the Saudi Press Agency, the purpose of the
meeting is for Muslim religious leaders and leaders of other
religious faiths to discuss "life in human societies,
international cooperation, human rights, and issues of
security, peace and living together in the world." Though it
is unclear who will be invited to the conference, MWL
Secretary-General Dr. Abdullah al-Turki mentioned "dialogue
with followers of divine messages, and eastern ideologies,"
according to the Jeddah Arab News. This will be the second
meeting held under the auspices of Saudi King Abdullah, the
first occurring earlier this year in Saudi Arabia between
Sunni and Shiite religious leaders.

3. (U) Background (continued): Per ref A, UN Secretary
General Ban told Ambassador Khalilzad on June 20 that Saudi
King Abdullah asked for the SYG's help in arranging a Special
Session of the upcoming UN General Assembly (fall 2008) on
the political and religious components of interfaith
dialogue. This Special Session would build on previous Saudi
efforts to promote interfaith dialogue, including the June 4
Inter-Muslim conference in Saudi Arabia and the July 16-18
conference in Spain. Ban sought U.S. views. The U.S. will
look to the July 16-18 conference in Spain in developing its
positions on this proposed Special Session. Specific areas of
interest include:

-- Involvement of, or reference to, the Alliance of
Civilizations organization (AoC) or the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC);

-- Reference to the concept of "Defamation of Religions";

-- References to "Zionism as racism";

-- Religious faiths and nationalities invited to attend the
conference, particularly moderate Shiite and Sunni Muslims
from a range of countries; Sufi Muslims; Christians from
predominantly Muslim countries; Jews (please see 7/6/08
article in Gulf News, "Saudi official denies Israeli rabbi
invited to forum," mentioning an intention not to invite
Israeli Jews); Bahais; non-Abrahamic faiths such as Hindus
and Buddhists; and agnostics and atheists;

-- Role, if any, of NGOs;

-- Political themes, including references to U.S. policies;
and

-- References to future meetings.

4. (U) In light of the imminent approach of the conference,
posts should report back initially no later than Thursday,
July 10, notifying Department of POC name and contact
information.
RICE

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