( dpa )- Government and United Nations leaders next week will hold the first Alliance of Civilizations forum in Madrid in an effort to find solutions to conflicts, such as terrorism and cultural and political clashes that have been aggravated since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
The alliance was created after the attacks to foster an understanding between Islam and the West and to address the various contentious issues that continue to cause tensions among the world's civilizations.
The group will meet Tuesday and Wednesday for high-level discussions, which will be opened by Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luiz-Zapatero , Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan , UN Secretary General Ban Ki -moon and former Portuguese president Jorge Sampaio , the alliance's leader.
A host of governments are sending their top leaders, including Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi , Algeria's Prime Minister Adelaziz Belkhadem and the heads of major organizations and universities.
Sampaio sent a letter to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf last month to condemn the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as a "despicable act."
"Extremism in all its forms should be firmly condemned," Sampaio said.
The alliance said its forum will be an "action-driven event which will provide participants with a unique international platform to develop joint initiatives and forge partnerships."
Spain and Turkey took the first initiative to set up the alliance under UN auspices in 2005, with the aim of improving understanding and cooperative relations across cultures and religions "to help counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism." dpa tn aw