Inta[euro][TM]l Interfaith Meet Starts; GMA to Open 15-Nation Dialogue in Cebu Today New Zealand Prime Minister Set to Attend

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Byline: MARS W. MOSQUEDA JR.

MACTAN, Cebu - Ten delegates each from 15 countries are expected to attend a three-day dialogue on Regional Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Development, and Human Dignity that will open today at the Shangri-la Hotel on Mactan island.

Delegates from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Malaysia and Fiji islands are expected to participate in the dialogue convened by the Philippines through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) with New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia as co-chairmen.

President Arroyo is expected to attend the opening ceremonies today, according to the advisory released yesterday by the Philippine Information Agency.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and the Foreign Ministers of Australia and Indonesia are scheduled to give their respective messages.

The regional interfaith conference is expected to come up with the "Cebu Declaration on Regional Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Development, and Human Dignity." The declaration will contain specific projects aimed at promoting peace and development in the region.

The Cebu dialogue is a follow-up activity from the first dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation on Peace, Development and Human Dignity and Specific Country-Level Commitments, incorporating recommendations from the workshop themes on regional peace and security, development and human dignity, roles of education and media.

The first interfaith dialogue was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in December 2004, bringing together 136 religious leaders from 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region to thresh out practical measures that governments and communities could take to improve social conditions and promote harmony and development at the grassroots level. …