Religious Representatives Propose Six-Nation Interreligious Peace Conference

2003-11-28 00:00:00

Representatives of religions who met in Seoul have proposed a six-nation interreligious dialogue that will include North Korean representatives and help promote security on the Korean peninsula.

At the Nov. 17-18 international peace conference, 50 delegates representing Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, as well as Chondogyo and Won Buddhism, religions founded in Korea, discussed the political crisis surrounding North Korea and humanitarian issues.

The political crisis came about when North Korea, claiming it faces danger from the U.S. "preemptive strike" policy, announced it was going ahead with its nuclear weapons program. This led to an attempt to defuse the crisis by six nations with a stake in the security of the region -- China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

The international peace Conference delegates came from Europe, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States to meet on the theme "From Cease-fire To Peace: Peacemaking Role of World Religions." The Korea Peace Forum organized the conference.

A final statement confirmed that the two Koreas are the main actors in establishing peace on the peninsula. The statement urged future six-party interreligious talks to address not only the North´s nuclear program, but also broader regional security, economic and humanitarian concerns and aid.

In the statement, the religious leaders outlined plans to arrange a six-nation interreligious peace meeting in Beijing next year to coincide with the next round of talks between the governments of the six countries involved in the political negotiations. Representatives from the (North) Korean Council of Religionists would be invited to that meeting.

James Byun Jin-heung, secretary general of the (South) Korean Conference on Religion and Peace, told UCA News on Nov. 24 that his group would organize the six-nation interreligious meeting within the first half of next year.

Byun said his group, which was represented at the Seoul conference, and the Korean Council of Religionists has already planned to hold working-level talks at Mount Kumgang in North Korea, set for Dec. 8-10. The southern delegates will propose the six-nation interreligious meeting at the talks, he said.

Mount Kumgang is a famous mountain resort that the North and South have agreed to develop together. North Korea opened it to South Koreans in 1998, and it has since become a symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas.

Byun said, "The upcoming religious conference will help underpin the political recognition and any peace guarantees emerging from the talks among the six nations."

Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat, moderator of Asia Conference on Religion and Peace, which was also represented at the Seoul conference, told UCA News on Nov. 17, "Our main object is peace and reconciliation through religion. Directly, we don´t have much power or influence, but we can work diligently and we pledge to do whatever we can do for peace between North and South Korea."

He maintained that "dialogue is the best method" and his group "will invite North Korean religious leaders to realize such a dialogue."

Marwat´s group is an international organization that promotes cooperation among religions in Asia while maintaining respect for religious difference.

Korea Peace Forum was set up by Protestant Reverend Kang Won-yong in 2000.


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