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ENGLAND: Archbishop Williams welcomes Muhammad Khatami to Lambeth Palace

[Lambeth Palace]  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has met with HE Seyyed Muhammad Khatami, former President of Iran, who is visiting London this week.

Williams received Khatami at Lambeth Palace on the morning of November 2 and the two discussed developing relationships between Christian and Muslim Institutions, especially the developing dialogue between the Church of England and Iranian Islamic organizations. The conversation explored a growing perception that peoples' spiritual needs were more urgent than ever and required a more comprehensive response than modern society and culture seemed able to offer.

Williams was encouraged to learn of Mr Khatami's work in establishing a center in Geneva to pursue his 'Dialogue of Civilisations' initiative. Williams said that the meeting had been a positive one.

"I was heartened by the support Mr. Khatami expressed for the idea that religious leaders in places of tension and conflict should play a vital role in building confidence and trust between communities," he said. "People of faith have much to contribute to the solving of the problems caused by mistrust and misunderstanding."

The meeting was followed by a seminar on Christian Muslim relations and a discussion about a number of the Archbishop's initiatives, including the Building Bridges Seminars and the trilateral seminar series between the Institute of Inter-religious Dialogue in Iran, the Lutheran Church of Germany (EKD) and the Church of England. The seminar also heard about the formal relationship between the Anglican Communion and the premier Islamic University of al-Azhar al Sharif in Egypt through which exchanges of imams and clergy in training are currently taking place. The seminar heard from the Rev. Nigel Dawkins who spent six weeks in the summer at Al Alzhar University. Khatami also briefed the seminar about the center for the Dialogue of Civilisations that he is establishing in Geneva.