US President George W Bush will join other heads of state at the UN next week for discussion on religion and cooperation for peace, the UN said on Wednesday.
The Kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and presidents of the Philippines, Pakistan, Bahrain, Israel, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are among those expected to attend the session in the UN General Assembly Nov 12-13.
Enrique Yeves, spokesman for the 192-nation assembly, said a dozen heads of state and 40 to 50 government delegations have confirmed attendance.
Yeves said the UN considers the number of participants "very good". Heads of state, particularly from the US, usually would send lower-ranking officials to such a meeting. But Bush is finishing up his presidency with obviously a less hectic schedule and has time to spare.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had received "an encouraging list" of dignitaries to take part in the interfaith dialogue.
"This initiative will be a very important one that will provide us very important momentum where all the world leaders, representatives from different faiths, different regions, will sit together," Ban said.
The interfaith dialogue is built to deepen understanding and appreciation of religions, faiths and cultures, which will help create a favourable environment for the resolution of political issues, Ban said.
The assembly had held two rounds of discussion on the issue in the past years at ministerial levels. It would be the first time that heads of state would take part in the discussion.