17-member delegation to represent India at Kazakh world religious meet

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New Delhi, July 1 (ANI): A seventeen member delegation is representing India at the Third Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions starting in Astana in Kazakhstan from today (July 1 and 2).

The Third Congress will see the participation of three world religions - Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism and more than 60 delegations from different religious confessions, representatives from international organizations such as the United Nations, the Islamic Conference Organization, the OSCE and UNESCO.

"The 17 member Indian delegation representing Muslims, Hindus and Christians has gone to Astana to participate in the global conference of faith and civilisations where they will deliberate on prospects of peaceful coexistence among the world's religions," said Dr. Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan in India.

Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari was also invited to be a guest of honour at the Congress, but could not make to the conference due to prior commitments, said Dr. Kairat Umarov.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev will inaugurate the conference at a unique pyramid-shaped building in Astana, which is a nine-storey monument called "Palace of Peace and Concord". It has been specially built for the meeting of leaders of world and traditional religions.

Israeli President Shimon Peres is the chief guest for the conference. Other prominent participants are Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik, Supreme Imam of the University of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammed Said Tantaui.

According to Kazakhstan, which hosted the previous two Congress's (in September 2003 and September 2006); a regular dialogue between the leaders of world and traditional religions opens "wide prospects for mutual cooperation and contributes to overcoming negative manifestations such as violence, fanaticism, extremism and terrorism."

Kazakhstan's initiative has gained worldwide recognition, so much so, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution on Promotion of Inter-Religious Dialogue on November 12, 2004.

The resolution stresses the commitment of all religions to promote peace and stability all over the world, and appeals to the international community to promote inter-religious dialogue, a culture of peace and greater dialogue among civilizations.

The first day of the Congress - the plenary session - will focus on how and what role religious leaders can play in the construction of a world based on tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation.

The second and concluding day will focus on three issues - (1) Moral and cultural wealth, world ethics (2) Dialogue and cooperation and (3) Solidarity, especially in times of crises. By Praful Kumar SinghANI)

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