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U.S. Secretary Of State Begins Mideast Trip --> Rice (left) with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal in Jeddah in November (AFP) PRAGUE, 21 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has departed Washington for a tour of Middle East countries.

Rice will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates during her trip, which will last until 24 February.

Rice will consult with regional leaders on a broad array of bilateral and regional issues. She'll focus on Iran's nuclear ambitions, the political situation in Iraq, and the Palestinian territories following the recent election victory of the militant group Hamas.

On her first stop in Egypt on 21 February, Egyptian officials will tell Rice not to rush to judgment when Hamas forms a government.

On Iran, according to the Eqyptian state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other officials will tell Rice the region should be free of weapons of mass destruction.

(with material from AFP)

Islam In A Pluralistic World

A Muslim woman (left) watches a Christian procession in Madrid in March (AFP)


CONFERENCE ON ISLAM: A major international conference on Islam concluded in Vienna in November 2005 with strong appeals from prominent Muslim leaders to recognize international terrorism as simply "terrorism." Political figures from Islamic countries, including the presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan, argued that it should never be labeled "Islamic" or "Muslim" terrorism because Islam is based on peace, dialogue, and tolerance. "Salaam" -- meaning "peace" -- was the key word of the three-day conference, titled "ISLAM IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD."
Iraqi President Jalal Talibani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai used the word in their remarks to emphasize the peaceful nature of Islam. Other speakers quoted passages from the Koran to the effect that all men and women, regardless of faith, are creatures of God and should live in peace with each other without discrimination...(more)


Listen to Afghan President HAMID KARZAI's complete address to the Vienna conference (in English):
Real Audio Windows Media


Listen to UN special envoy LAKHDAR BRAHIMI's complete address to the Vienna conference (in English):
Real Audio Windows Media

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