Philippines hosts NAM meeting on interfaith dialogue

Manila, Philippines - Senior foreign officials from more than 100 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) gathered in the Philippines Tuesday to promote interfaith dialogue to help resolve conflicts, tensions and other social maladies. Egypt's Ambassador to the United Nations Maged Abdelaziz said he hoped the first-ever Special NAM Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development would galvanize efforts to bring peaceful resolutions to conflicts around the world.

Abdelaziz said cooperation for peace was crucial for developing countries to preserve the interests and aspirations amid the challenges brought about by rapid globalization.

"It is essential to curb the tides of religious extremism, intolerance and violence that threaten to erode our development gains and destabilize national peace and social harmony," he said at the start of the event in Manila.

He noted that while the international community has taken "serious steps" to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other form of intolerance, the world was still witnessing "a growth of contemporary forms of bigotry and racism."

"Eliminating these negative phenomena would only be possible through the consolidation of efforts to reinforce the principles of democracy and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms," he added.

Foreign officials are scheduled to meet on Wednesday and forge a Manila declaration and programme of action that aims to "usher in a cooperative international approach to promoting dialogue, mutual understanding, enlightened knowledge and education."

"Sowing the seeds of a culture of peace among peoples and nations through dialogue is instrumental to cement the global efforts towards total elimination of the shadow of war," Abdelaziz said.

"This could only be possible through a constructive dialogue that promotes mutual understanding and acceptance of the other, as an initial but crucial step to overcome historical rivalries, tensions and mistrust," he added.