July 14, 2005

UN seeks to bolster ties between West and Islam

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations, acting after
deadly suicide bombings apparently driven by Muslim extremism
hit London, launched an initiative on Thursday to build new
bridges between the West and Islam.

The campaign's aim was to "bridge divides and overcome
prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions, and polarization
which potentially threaten world peace," U.N. chief spokesman
Stephane Dujarric said.

Recent events had "heightened the sense of a widening gap
and lack of mutual understanding between Islamic and Western
societies -- an environment that has been exploited and
exacerbated by extremists in all societies," he said.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was pursuing the "Alliance of
Civilizations" initiative, at the suggestion of Spain and
Turkey, after 54 people were killed in suicide bombings in
London by three British Muslims of Pakistani origin and a
Jamaican-born Briton.

The campaign has no firm plans yet but is expected to
present recommendations and a plan of action in late 2006.