Peace and Harmony Conference
Establishes Permanent Forum for Peace and Stability
President Bush Says U.S. "Strongly Supports" Objectives; U.S. Senators, Congressmen Consider Event "Critical to Worldwide
Efforts to Counter Extremism"
The International Conference on Peace and Harmony in Kazakhstan on Feb. 13, coming just the day before the ritical report by the UN weapons inspectors on Iraq in New York and on the penultimate day of Muslim hajj
pilgrimage, became an important milestone in the international affairs, and drew strong international attention.
Leaders of several Muslim-majority nations of Central Asia and elsewhere, representatives of Islam, Christianity, and Jewish leaders from throughout the
world met in Almaty today calling for dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations during a time of great global uncertainty.
Presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan, senior officials from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkey, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and more than 70 leaders of international Jewish organizations agreed that religions must not be viewed as a factor of conflict, rather as a source for and way to pacification. They pledged to work toward
peaceful coexistence and cooperation both on regional and the international levels.
President George W. Bush and several other leaders said they support the conference's goals. "The United States strongly supports the Conference's objective of fostering peace and stability through dialogue among people of different nationalities and faiths," President Bush said in a February 12 letter
to President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and participants of the conference. "All peace-loving people share a deep interest in advancing religious liberty and tolerance, stemming hatred, and eliminating the threat of terrorism."
In their letters to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, U.S. senators and representatives said the Conference was "critical to worldwide efforts to counter
extremism." It sent "a strong signal that the present and future course of the Muslim world will not be controlled by those that would popagate hate, fear and
murder, such as Al Qaeda, but by those nations and poeple who respect and promote peace, tolerance and democracy."
Senators Sam Brownback, Orrin Hatch, Mary Landrieu, representatives Robert Wexler, Gary Ackerman, Henry Waxman, Joseph Pitts and others signed separate letters of support for the conference. At the event the participants adopted the declaration and established the permanent Forum for Peace and Stability with headquarters in Kazakhstan. "By establishing the Forum we lay down the foundation for creating a mechanism for permanent dialogue in the name of stability, security and peace in the 21st century," President Nazarbayev said at the conference
Thursday. He said, "new realities require new approaches to thinking of new principles of solving the problems."
"The basis for the dialogue of civilizations lies in the unity of values preached by all religions," stated Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov. "We must not allow attempts to pit civilizations against each other to succeed." The Jewish leaders at the conference also called for moderation and dialogue, and continued fight against terrorism. "We want good and moderate voices to be heard, young people to be reared up in this spirit," said Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "We
need to push the world toward harmony so that we lived without serious differences."
Mortimer Zuckerman, that organization's chairman, expressed "gratitude to all present for your fight against all forms of terrorism and extremism."
In their letters, American legislators commended President Nazarbayev "on taking concrete steps to bridge the growing divide between Muslims and Jews at a time when tension in the Middle East is at a fulcrum and intolerance and anti-Semitism are rising worldwide." They said they would be remiss if they
"did not thank you and your nation for providing unconditional support to the United States in our global campaign against terror and in stopping the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
Kazakhstan has been chosen as a host for such a meeting because it is seen as a suitable venue for interethnic and interconfessional dialogue. People of more than 100 ethnic groups following the teachings of 46 religious confessions have been living there peacefully since the country became independent in 1991.
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News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the USA and Canada
(Compiled from own sources and various agencies' reports)
Contact persons: Roman Vassilenko, Aibek Nurbalin
Tel.: (202) 232- 5488 ext. 104, 115, Fax: (202) 232- 5845