The United Nations’ High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace started in New York today with the participation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Representatives of more than 75 countries are participating in the two-day conference, including kings, emirs, heads of government and heads of international bodies.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a speech welcoming the attendees and expressed thanks to King Abdullah for calling for the meeting.
Subsequently, several leaders expressed strong support for cross-cultural dialogue and praised Saudi Arabia for initiating the process. The speakers included Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Turkish Premier Tayyip Erdogan and Moroccan Premier Abbas Al-Fassi.
King Abdullah addressed the conference Wednesday. "We state with a unified voice that religions through which Almighty God sought to bring happiness to mankind should not be turned into instruments to cause misery," the King declared. "We will continue what we have commenced, extending our hand to all those advocating peace, justice and tolerance."
US President George Bush is scheduled to address the session on Thursday.