Thank you all for being here. I’m really delighted to welcome you to the United Nations and to be able to participate in this very important dialogue.
Before I begin, I would like us to pause for a moment to remember all those who suffered from the volcanic eruptions and tsunami that have befallen Indonesia in recent weeks. Today, all of those who were lost or displaced by fire and ash, by wind and water remain in our thoughts and prayers. So if we can just take a moment.
We know, of course, that our friends in Indonesia are among the most resilient and strong people on Earth—and as always, we stand with Indonesia ready to help however is needed.
I want to thank all of those who helped to organize this dialogue, including my friend and colleague, Ambassador Kleib, and Dr. William Fendley of Religions for Peace.
Ambassador Kleib and I were talking recently about this event and about the inspiring first U.S.-Indonesia interfaith dialogue, which took place last January in Jakarta. That was a very important step: a bilateral, interfaith working group specifically guided by a deeply American principle that is also a deeply Indonesian principle. We believe, as President Obama put it in his historic speech in Cairo last year, that faith can be a force for partnership and healing, rather than a pretext for division.
And so let me commend you for forming this Interfaith Council—a significant accomplishment that was the direct result of the Jakarta dialogue. By coming together today, as Indonesian and American leaders – and to be joined by so many other colleagues from other nations, as well – we are helping to extend and expand the opportunity launched with the President’s speech in Cairo and then continued with last January’s dialogue in Jakarta. At that session, dozens of faith leaders from both of our nations gathered for three days—including many of you who are in this room. Participants pledged to learn from one another and to consider the ways that faith leaders can work together to expand their influence and their impact—to do more together to improve the lives of all people in all of our communities.
The United States and Indonesia are the world’s second and third most populous democracies, and we are two of the most diverse nations on Earth. We are home to Christians and Buddhists, to Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and others. Our communities retain their individual beliefs, but they share a common commitment to the health and well-being of all communities. They also share common concerns and are working together to meet common challenges: from reducing poverty to tackling climate change, improving education, and strengthening good governance.
So your work here today, I hope, will lead to even more partnerships that cross faith lines and international borders.
So let me thank you again for coming, for being part of this. And I now want to give the floor to my friend and colleague, Ambassador Kleib, the permanent representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations.
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