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Dialogue requires compromise, envoy to UN says

Switzerland's ambassador to the United Nations says the country is committed to political dialogue that takes account of religious and cultural factors.

Peter Maurer was speaking on Thursday, the second day of a two-day conference on interreligious cooperation at the UN headquarters in New York.

Maurer pointed out that dialogue between representatives of different religions was seldom successful. Dialogue only worked if both sides were prepared to compromise.

He said the peaceful coexistence between cultures depended first on the relationship between individual citizens and their governments. Humility and an understanding of historical and geographical factors were important too, he said.

Maurer's comments came on the same day that President George W. Bush addressed the conference, praising the "transformative and uplifting power of faith".

In his address to delegates, Bush argued that the world's religions shared common values and said that democracy was the best way to establish harmony among faiths.

The conference, supported by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, had attracted representatives from more than 70 countries.

In a declaration, representatives called for the "rejection of the use of religion to justify the killing of innocent people and actions of terrorism, violence and coercion which directly contradict the commitment of all religions to peace, justice and equality".


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