'World Culture Open' holds inaugural conference at United Nations

10 September 2004 – Ministers from around the world meeting at the United Nations today discussed how to use the arts to spread peace, as the World Culture Open, a new international non-profit organization working to promote reconciliation, held its inaugural conference.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed the gathering, which this year is focusing on promoting reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

In a message delivered by Maurice Strong, his envoy for the region, Mr. Annan said the goals and ideals of the World Culture Open - such as promoting peace and dialogue between cultures and encouraging notions of common humanity - match those of the United Nations.

After three days of events in New York that included today's meeting at the UN, the World Culture Open moves to Seoul in the Republic of Korea (ROK), then Pyongyang in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and finally Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between the two countries later this month.

"The sharing and mutual appreciation of cultural heritage, customs and traditions" at the festival serves "to bridge the dangerous gap of intolerance, ignorance and miscommunication between cultures," Mr. Annan stated.

He added that the many joint events scheduled to take place across the Korean Peninsula later this month will add "a new dimension to international efforts aimed at achieving durable peace and prosperity there."

Explaining why the group sought to hold its first meeting at the UN, World Culture Open spokesman Michael Shank said the aim was to encourage government officials to "promote and integrate art and cultural traditions that have existed for 10,000 years into the realm of political discourse."

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