President George W Bush will join several other world leaders at a General Assembly meeting to promote a global dialogue about religions, cultures and common values, UN and US officials said.
The meeting is a follow-up to an interfaith conference in Madrid organised by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Juan Carlos of Spain in July which brought together Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and representatives of other religions and sparked hopes of a new relationship among religions.
General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann has sent invitations to all 192 UN member states to the high-level meeting on November 12-13 and expects at least 20 or 30 world leaders to attend, his spokesman Enrique Yeves said. Bush will attend on November 13, UN and US officials said.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush "remains committed to fostering interfaith harmony among all religions, both at home and abroad." She said Bush also plans to meet separately with Abdullah.
D'Escoto believes the initiative "should be broadened to talking not only about religions but about cultures, about all the common values we have," Yeves said.
"He would like that we talk not only about dialogue, but about joining forces in order to work together with all these common values to address the major issues that we are facing right now in the world," Yeves said.
Abdullah, whose country bans non-Muslims from openly practicing their religion, has called for religious tolerance and said such dialogue is the duty of every human being.