New UN-led cultural alliance unveiled

South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami are members of a high-level UN group tasked with promoting an Alliance of Civilisations between the West and the Islamic world.

    The Alliance of Civilisations was a Spanish-Turkish initiative

    A joint Spanish-Turkish initiative, the alliance was defined by the UN on Friday as a group initially consisting of 18 members that had been brought together through extensive consultations with experts on dialogue between civilisations and culture.

    The UN said the group could be expanded later and said it would hold its first meeting in late November.
    Other members of the group include Spain's Federico Mayor Zaragoza - the former head of the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation - and the outgoing of the Inter-American Development - Uruguay's Enrique Iglesias.

    The former French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine and Karen Armstrong, a British expert on the history of religions, are also believed to be in the new alliance.
    The Spanish-Turkish initiative was unveiled by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the UN General Assembly last September.
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the aim of the alliance was to have Western countries and Muslim countries form a "coalition of civilised people from whatever race or religion to combat the barbarity of terrorism".



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