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Australia to co-sponsor regional interfaith dialogue.



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Media contact: Mr Downer’s Office : 02 6277 7500

Angus Mackenzie (Departmental): 02 6261 1555 www.dfat.gov.au

MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA 060 28 May 2007

AUSTRALIA TO CO-SPONSOR REGIONAL INTERFAITH DIALOGUE

I will visit Waitangi, New Zealand, on 28 and 29 May 2007 to attend “Building Bridges: The Third Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue”.

Australia, together with Indonesia, New Zealand and the Philippines, is co-sponsoring the Waitangi Interfaith Dialogue. Australia co-founded the Regional Interfaith Dialogue with Indonesia in 2004 and, since then, the Dialogue has gone from strength to strength. With our co-sponsors, we are committed to fostering mutual respect, understanding and tolerance among different religions and cultures across our region. None of us wants to allow extremists to set the agenda with their deliberate attempts to create discord and incite violence. We want to do everything we can to empower the moderate majorities who seek peace, harmony and tolerance in all our communities.

The Dialogue will involve faith and community leaders and interfaith experts from each ASEAN country, Australia, East Timor, Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The Australian delegates are: Cardinal George Pell, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney; Reverend John Baldock, Anglican Church; Reverend Sefarosa Carroll, Uniting Church; Reverend John Henderson, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia; Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand; Mr Ikebal Patel, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils; Dr Ameer Ali, Vice President of the Regional Islamic Da’wa Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific; Mr Kim Hollow, Vice President, Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils; Sister Patricia Madigan OP, Catholic Church; Mr Tom Calma, National Race Discrimination Commissioner; Mr Jeremy Jones AM, Director of International and Community Affairs, Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council; Sheikh Shafiq Kahn, Chairman of the Australian Islamic Cultural Centre; Mr Prakash Mehta, Member of the Hindu Council of Australia; and Professor Swee-Hin Toh, Director, Multi-Faith Centre, Griffith University.