• Kyodo

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Religious leaders from around the world wrapped up a four-day meeting in Kyoto on Tuesday with a commitment to work together to end violence, poverty and other global problems.

In the pledge, called the Kyoto Declaration, the World Conference of Religions for Peace noted that religion is often misused to justify violence. It said participants will work together to resolve religious conflicts.

Some 2,000 people from about 100 countries took part in the conference, including Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and Christians.

Prior to the closing ceremony, more than a dozen Sunni and Shiite Muslim leaders issued a joint statement calling for peace in Iraq, calling the sectarian killing of civilians unacceptable.

Jewish religious leader Yona Metzger called on his colleagues not to advocate violence in their places of worship or to tell their followers to kill innocent people.

Buddhist and Hindu leaders from civil war-stricken Sri Lanka called for a resumption of the ceasefire and peace talks between the government and Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

Muslim leaders from Sudan shook hands with Christians and discussed setting up organization for dialogue in that war-plagued country.

The conference, held every five years since its inaugural meeting in 1970 — also held in Kyoto — was attended by former Iranian President and Shiite cleric Mohammad Khatami, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, an ordained minister.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was a guest speaker at the meeting Saturday.

Japan barred six North Korean participants, including the chairman of North Korea’s religious council, citing more stringent restrictions on entry by North Koreans.

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