Search for peace begins, with Alliance of Civilisations

16th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

PM Zapatero joined world leaders in Madrid Tuesday for the opening of the first international forum aimed at averting a clash of civilisations.

16 January 2008

MADRID - Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero joined world leaders in Madrid Tuesday for the opening of the first international forum aimed at averting a clash of civilisations between the West and the Muslim world.

The Alliance of Civilisations, a UN-backed initiative launched four years ago by Zapatero and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeks to battle intolerance and promote understanding between world cultures in the wake of Islamist terrorist attacks against the United States, Spain and other countries in recent years.

"[Our aim is to] mobilise the great majority of the population who want to, and know how to, live in peace," Zapatero told the 400 delegates from governments, international organisations and NGOs at the forum opening ceremony. "We want to contribute to isolating extremist and intolerant discourses on the part of those who try to utilise religion or culture for political purposes."

The Turkish prime minister used the occasion to call for European states to accept his country's entry into the EU, a long-standing demand that Zapatero said on Monday he supports despite French and German opposition.

[Copyright EL PAÍS / Ángeles Espinosa 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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