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Alliance Of Civilizations Meeting Makes Progress

Alliance Of Civilizations Meeting Makes ‘Significant Progress’ Towards First Report

New York, Sep 6 2006 6:00PM

Education, youth, immigration, women and media will be the priorities of the first major report by the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year to try to bridge the gap between Islam and the West.

The policies of the integration of immigrants into their new societies will also be examined in the report, following a two-day working meeting in New York of the Alliance’s High-Level Group.

One of the co-chairs of the High-Level Group, Mehmet Aydin, Minister of State of Turkey, told reporters at United Nations Headquarters today that participants in the meeting agreed that the UN and other international organizations should play an even more important role than they do at present in upholding global peace and security.

“There is a general agreement that human rights and commonly shared values in our contemporary world need to be supported, and no concession must be given under no circumstances, as far as these commonly shared values are concerned,” Mr. Aydin said.

The meeting, which concluded today, focused on reviewing the draft of a report that is scheduled to be delivered to Mr. Annan in mid-November in Istanbul.

Mr. Aydin said delegates to the meeting had made “significant progress” towards a final text, and he said the document would have several priority themes – education, youth, immigration, women and media.

The High-Level Group’s other co-chair, Federico Mayor, President of the Culture of Peace Foundation, stressed to journalists that the Alliance is working during “a crucial moment of turbulence” in international relations.

Professor Mayor, a former Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said it was therefore vital that Member States show greater support for the world body and its work in reducing global tensions and inequalities.

Participants in the High-Level Group include such renowned international figures as Mohamed Khatami, the former Iranian president; Ali Alatas, Indonesia’s former Foreign Minister; South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the religious historian Karen Armstrong.

The Alliance was proposed by the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey and launched by Mr. Annan last year with the brief of trying to tackle the mutual suspicion, fear and misunderstanding that can exist between Western and Muslim communities.

Ends

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