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Calmy-Rey visits Turkey for tolerance meeting

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has been attending a United Nations conference on tolerance in Turkey.

Calmy-Rey took part in a panel discussion, attended a lunch with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and had dinner with Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Monday at the gathering of UN’s so-called Alliance of Civilizations.

The foreign minister also held talks on the sidelines of the event but a spokeswoman declined to release further details.

Calmy-Rey was part of a six-person delegation that heard Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish premier and incoming Nato secretary-general, call for a deeper dialogue with the Islamic world.

Rasmussen will become the Nato head on August 1 after longstanding opposition from the Turkish government, which was angered over the publication in Danish newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Rasmussen said an apology was out of the question. “Freedom of expression is vital. The same applies to the respect for religious feelings. We have to bring both to an exact balance,” he said.

Ministers and heads of state from some 30 countries attended the meeting. The Alliance of Civilizations was founded in 2005 by Spain and Turkey months after the bloody bombings in Madrid.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR