Associated France Press (AFP) 13/5/2006
Summit of large Muslim countries opens with calls for unity
NUSA DUA (AFP) - A summit of eight large Muslim countries has opened on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali with calls by Indonesian and Iranian leaders for unity and greater cooperation.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged the members of the Developing 8 (D-8) to address the global oil crisis by working together to develop alternative energy sources, intensify cooperation to combat pandemics and promote dialogue among civilisations.
"We must be able to embrace modernity by becoming forward looking, by becoming knowledge-driven, by advancing a culture of excellence," Yudhoyono said in his speech opening the summit.
Yudhoyono said the D-8 nations wanted to achieve progress "through peace not war, dialogue not confrontation, cooperation not exploitation, justice not double standards, equality not discrimination, democracy not oppression."
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, handing over the grouping’s chairmanship to Yudhoyono, urged D-8 member states to work together for the welfare of the Islamic world and the entire world community.
"We are all members of the Muslim ummah (community) and the human society as a whole and thus have shared interests and concerns," he said.
Greater cooperation "will bring about greater strength, dignity and progress to the Muslim ummah... which can be used in the service of international peace and security and also the welfare of the entire international community," he said.
"We can offer a good model of cooperation and understanding based on justice to the world," he said. "In this context the Islamic Republic of Iran feels obliged to mobilise all its means and possibilities to further strengthen D-8."
D-8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The forum focuses on commercial and economic cooperation among member states, including in the areas of science, industry and investment.
The eight nations have a population of about 500 million people combined.
The heads of state were in particular set to discuss ways to avert a global energy crisis by developing renewable and alternative energy sources including nuclear power, efforts to combat problems such as AIDS and bird flu and address the debt problems of developing countries.
The group held its first summit in 1997 and last met in Tehran in February 2004.