WASHINGTON, March 26: The United States on Wednesday welcomed Saudi King Abdullah’s initiative for dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews and will send its envoy to participate in the proposed talks.
“The dialogue is always encouraging,” said Sada Cumber, special US envoy to the Organisation of Islamic conference. “We will attend the meeting.”
The Saudi king made an impassioned plea for dialogue among the followers of the three faiths in Riyadh on Monday and offered to call a meeting of their representatives in the kingdom.
The call – the first of its kind by an Arab leader – has generated much interest in such a dialogue and representatives of all three faiths have welcomed the idea.
The specifics of the proposed meeting are still being worked out.
Mr Cumber, who is an American Muslim of Pakistani origin and the first US envoy to the OIC, said the United States wishes to stay engaged with the Muslim community around the world.
The United States, he said, has proposed three areas of cooperation — science and technology, women’s rights and education — and noted that such cooperation would help promote a better understanding between the Islamic and Western worlds.
He said that five to seven million Muslims living in the US enjoy high quality of life, freedom of expression and a respect of their religion and they can play a significant role in bridging differences between the two worlds.
Mr Cumber said that while as a Muslim he condemns the cartoons that make fun of religious beliefs, he also understands that freedom of expression was an integral part of the Western culture.
“In the United States, what we do not like we can reject and I reject those cartoons” he said. “But if you are asking me to give away that freedom; I am not prepared to do that.”