Saudi King opens interfaith dialogue initiative

King Abdullah has opened a three-day Muslim interfaith conference that the kingdom hopes would pave the way for a wider dialogue between Muslims and adherents of monotheistic faiths. Over 500 Muslim delegates from about 50 countries have gathered in the holy city of Mecca for the event, including Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president of mostly Shiite Iran. Abdullah walked into the hall Wednesday with Rafsanjani, who later sat on the king's left on the stage, sending a message that the Sunni Muslim kingdom does not have a problem with moderate Shiites like him. Participants say they hope the gathering will culminate in an agreement on a global Islamic charter on dialogue with Christians and Jews.