“interfaith”= code for da’awa, Islamic proselytizing…
Daniel Pipes:Â Obama Wins, Muslims Divided
Peres dines with Arab leaders
Israeli President Shimon Peres and Arab leaders including King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have attended the same dinner at the UN offices in New York.
The joint attendance is a first for the two leaders, whose countries lack diplomatic ties, but reports said there was no contact between the men.
They are attending a two-day UN meeting promoting dialogue on religion and culture, proposed by Saudi Arabia.
Public meetings that include Israeli and Saudi officials are extremely rare.
“It’s quite unique when you expect President Peres of Israel…and many kings and leaders from the Arab world…[sitting] down together and having dinner,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said before Tuesday’s banquet.
“I sincerely hope that through their participation in the meeting itself and through this kind of social, diplomatic gathering, they will be able to promote further understanding.”
Seventeen heads of state and government, including from Israel, the US, Britain, and several Arab countries, are expected to participate on Wednesday and Thursday in the interfaith conference.
Not all arrived in time for the dinner, but King Abdullah and Mr Peres attended, accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya News Channel said King Abdullah was seated next to Mr Ban while the Israeli president was seated at a table some distance away.
US President George W. Bush will address the conference on Thursday.
The London-based pan-Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi said that Saudi Arabia’s mufti and other prominent religious scholars have boycotted it.
It added that Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah, has called for the expulsion of Mr Peres from the meeting.Â