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President Karzai Attends UN Interfaith Meeting

On November 12-13, 2008 President Hamid Karzai attended an interfaith dialogue on religion, culture and common values at the United Nations in New York. The event, officially called the "High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace," was hosted by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and attended by more than 54 heads of state and other high government officials. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and UN General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto opened the meeting.

In a speech to the gathered dignitaries, President Karzai spoke of the role of religion in promoting peace. "We are meeting here today to affirm that all religions in our world reflect and nurture mankind's inner desire for peace and self-realization," he stated. "Despite our different faiths, peoples of various religions have lived together in peace and harmony all over the world. And where there has been a conflict or confrontation, it has not stemmed from religion, but from the pursuit of narrow political objectives of certain adherents of many religions or every political ideology."

President Karzai also rejected the assumption that terrorism is solely rooted in religious beliefs. "Nothing could be further removed from a plausible causal connection with terrorism than religion. The terrorism we know is political rather than religious," he said. "These are not textbook observations; I have the history of my country to illustrate my view. Terrorism has never been a religious phenomenon in Afghanistan. Indeed, terrorism is an international and regional phenomenon, rooted in a complex historical context, spanning over the past four decades."

In speaking of Afghanistan, President Karzai noted that the many countries and cultures participating in the country's reconstruction indicated that interfaith cooperation is possible. "Afghanistan over the past seven years has been a powerful case for the prospect of a genuine cooperation among civilizations aimed at achieving common goals," he stated. "Countries such as Saudi Arabia, United States of America, European Union, Japan, China, India, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Pakistan are engaged in supporting our efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and they have even engaged in joint projects such as building our National Ring Road starting from the East to the West of the country. Indeed, our future in a peaceful world lies in the extent to which cooperation among civilizations, as exemplified in Afghanistan, can become the rule and not the exception."

While in New York, President Karzai was slated to meet with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, Secretary-General Moon and General Assembly President D'Escoto.

More Resources: President Hamid Karzai's Full Speech

                         Statement of UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon

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