Leaders Of Three Religions Discuss Mid-east Conflict

An unprecedented gathering of senior Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders is being held to explore ways of ending the on-going violence in the Middle East.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, is chairing the unique conference in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

The meeting will bring together more than a dozen leaders from the three faiths to explore the potential of religious communities in promoting a cessation of violence and the resumption of Middle East peace process.

It is the first time that such senior figures from the three religions have held focused discussions in this way.

The conference is being co-hosted by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, al-Sharif-Dr Mohamed Sayed Tantawy, the most senior Islamic figure in Egypt and holder of one of the most prestigious positions among Sunni Muslims worldwide.

Dr Carey said: "I hope very much that our discussions will serve the cause of peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. The very fact that religious leaders of such stature have accepted my invitation to come together in this unprecedented fashion is a positive sign at a time of continuing crisis."

The Archbishop, who is visiting the region for the second time in six months, has already held talks during the weekend with political leaders including the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat - both of whom have endorsed the initiative in Alexandria.

As President of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Carey has repeatedly expressed a readiness to do all he can to further the search for peace in the Holy Land