Pakistani Muslim, Christian leaders discuss religious tensions

Muslim and Christian religious leaders from Pakistan met here Monday to discuss ending tensions between them.

The informal talks were organized by the Norwegian Church Aid humanitarian group. Conflict between Christians and Muslims has intensified since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

"The seven Muslim leaders represent extremely important Islamic groups, and they now commit themselves to continue talks with the Christian leaders," Norwegian Church Aid said in the statement.

The Muslim delegation was led by Muhammad Hanif Jallandhary, who is head of a 4,000-student Islamic school in Pakistan. The delegation from the Church of Pakistan was led by Bishop Samuel Robert Azaria.

After the talks, the two sides met Gunnar Staalsett, Oslo bishop for the state Lutheran Church of Norway.

"I am very happy to welcome these delegations," he said. "We have shared our joint concerns about violence and terrorism and have expressed a will to carry on efforts with questions of faith, values and culture."

Jallandhary said he and his Christian counterparts hoped to start a process in which their government and people would see the two religions working together for peace and justice, then follow the example.