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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 10 September 2004 - Secretary-General's message to the World Culture Open [delivered by Mr. Maurice Strong, Special Adviser and Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General]

I am delighted to send my warm greetings to this first global festival of the World Culture Open initiative. Allow to me to extend my gratitude to Dr. Seok Hyun Hong, President of the World Culture Organizing Committee and President of the World Association of Newspapers, for this important and timely undertaking, supported by so many throughout the world.

The goals and ideals of the WCO complement those of the United Nations. The WCO's message of humanity and peace, dialogue and understanding is needed today as never before, as is positive and constructive effort by civil society and the private sector to bridge the dangerous gap of intolerance, ignorance and miscommunication between cultures. By bringing together artists and musicians, officials, intellectuals and businessmen from some 50 countries, you encourage the sharing and mutual appreciation of cultural heritage, customs and traditions.

Through the joint events that will take place in the Peninsula as part of this festival, you are promoting inter-Korean reconciliation, adding a new dimension to international efforts aimed at achieving durable peace and prosperity there and contributing significantly to my own initiative in the region.

I thank every one of you for your commitment to our common ideal of global peace, and wish you all the best for a splendid festival.