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Spain And Portugal Affirm Importance Of Dialogue

At UN Debate, Spain And Portugal Affirm Importance Of Dialogue Between Cultures

New York, Sep 21 2006 9:00PM

A serious, sustained dialogue between cultures and civilizations that leads to concrete actions is the way forward to tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges, especially the conflict in the Middle East, Europe’s Iberian neighbours Spain and Portugal told the General Assembly today.

In separate addresses on the third day of the annual debate, Portugal’s Prime Minister José Sócrates and Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos each stressed that all sides have a responsibility to replace fear and mistrust with respect for difference.

Mr. Moratinos said the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year and co-sponsored by Spain and Turkey, is designed to deal with these very challenges.

He added that the row at the start of this year over the publications of Danish cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and the violence in parts of the Islamic world over the past week following a speech in Germany by Pope Benedict XVI demonstrate the need for the Alliance.

Mr. Sócrates said the ongoing instability and discord in the Middle East highlighted the need for solutions that favour the political and the diplomatic over the military.

But he also said that a dialogue between civilizations, whether over issues in the Middle East or elsewhere, will not succeed unless there is a willingness to not accept “mere declarations, but to take firm and concrete steps towards greater interaction between peoples and cultures.”

Ends

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