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Joint ecumenical approach to the conflict in Zimbabwe

16 December 2003

Letter to H.E. Kjell Magne Bondevik, Prime Minister of Norway, 16 December, 2003

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches I want to express my very sincere
appreciation to you for honouring us by your presence at the Inter-Religious
Dialogue and for the far-reaching and challenging insights you shared with us.

Your statement that "religion should be seen as part of the solution and not as
part of the problem" still resonates in our mind. Indeed this is also the position
of the World Council of Churches. We are already receiving positive feedback
from our member churches, particularly from the churches that live in situations
where inter-faith dialogue is critical and urgent.

The encounter my colleagues and I had with you in my office, even though
short, did help us to address two of the major conflicts in which the WCC is heavily
engaged and where the involvement of Norwegian Church Aid continues to
be very supportive. I am referring in particular to Sudan and Zimbabwe. The
World Council of Churches will continue to monitor the developments in these
two countries in close consultation with its partners.

Your proposal to encourage specifically the neighboring countries to play a
proactive role in the Zimbabwe situation is timely. As you know, the Zimbabwean
churches, through the recently created Task Force, have intensified their advocacy
with the respective presidents of southern African countries. We will continue
to support them in this important effort.

In response to the request of the Zimbabwean Council of Churches, in early
2004, we are planning to organize a meeting of the Zimbabwean churches and
their partners in Southern Africa and beyond. This encounter will be strategically
important for developing a joint common ecumenical approach to the resolution
of the Zimbabwean conflict. The main challenge now is the imperative need
to create the necessary positive political atmosphere for dialogue between the
ZANU-PF and the opposition.

In conclusion the important and unique event we held last week has opened
new possibilities and opportunities for a mutually supportive mission and task
for the future. We therefore welcome and feel encouraged by this opportunity for
dialogue and look forward to continued contacts for deeper engagement in the
search for peace and harmonious living among the people of diverse cultures and
beliefs. This is also because we see you not only as a political leader but as a person
of faith as well.

I wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary Elect