Putin opens World Religious Summit in Moscow

Moscow, Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened the World Summit of Religious Leaders, delivering a speech at Moscow's President Hotel.

The forum involves more than 200 representatives from four Orthodox Churches, the heads of the Armenian, Ethiopian and Coptic Churches, representatives of Judaism and Buddhist organizations, and guests from Islamic countries.

The Vatican sent one of the largest delegations to the Moscow forum.

The religious summit is considered unique because it involves a large number of representatives of different religions and is taking place in the run-up to the G8 summit in St. Petersburg. The forum will offer G8's political leaders solutions to key problems facing the world from the point of view of various religious communities.

The religious summit will give top priority to ways to combat terrorism and extremism, solutions to issues related to family and human life, ways of promoting equality between genders, the moral upbringing of young people and poverty reduction measures.

The forum will also address the role of the media, environmental issues, steps to counter infectious diseases and drug addiction, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, dialogue between civilizations and other issues.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II came up with an initiative to hold the forum, which was organized by the Interreligious Council of Russia.