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Inter-cultural tensions, West Africa, Cyprus

Inter-cultural tensions, West Africa, Cyprus to be subjects of Annan trip

Intercultural understanding in the wake of violence over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the territorial dispute between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and the situation in Cyprus will be discussed during United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s travels that start this weekend.

On Saturday, he will arrive in Doha, Qatar, where he will convene a meeting to discuss the caricature crisis with the Secretaries-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Spain, Austria and Qatar.

Also attending will be the European Union’s High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and the gathering will be followed by a press conference including most of the participants, where a joint statement will be read.

Since the cartoon controversy began, Secretary-General Annan has repeatedly condemned the ensuing violence while urging a responsible use of the right of free speech.

On Sunday, the Secretary-General will attend the second meeting of the High-Level Panel of the Alliance of Civilizations, which was established last July by Mr. Annan last year as part of an effort to bridge gaps between cultures, particularly Islam and the West.

The panel would also discuss ways of “allowing a constructive dialogue between people of different faiths and traditions based on mutual understanding and respect,” Mr. Annan’s spokesman said on Monday.

From Doha, Mr. Annan will travel to Geneva, where, on Monday, he will host a mini-summit between President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, in an effort to revitalize the mediation efforts relating to their ongoing territorial dispute.

The Secretary-General will then go to Paris where, on Tuesday, he will deliver remarks at the Ministerial Conference Innovative Sources of Financing for Development, hosted by French President Jacques Chirac.

Later that day, he will meet with President Tassos Papadopoulos of Cyprus in order to review the situation in Cyprus and discuss ways of moving forward the process of reuniting Cyprus.

The Secretary-General will be back at headquarters on Thursday.

© Scoop Media

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