Jakarta (ANTARA) - The 2023 ASEAN Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Forum (ASEAN IIDC) is held to encourage harmony, tolerance, and peace, said Yahya Cholil Staquf, Chairperson of Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU), on Monday.

"We are organizing this forum with the objective of initiating consolidation among major civilizational constituencies that can encourage the growth of harmony, tolerance, and peace," he remarked during the forum held online from Jakarta on Monday.

The Executive Board of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, is holding the 2023 ASEAN IIDC to follow up on the Religion of Twenty (R20) forum held in November last year.

He said the IIDC draws inspiration from the shared cultural heritage of ASEAN communities, with the values of tolerance, harmony, and peace as the main characteristics passed down since centuries ago.

"Hopefully, this (forum) will inspire international dynamics as a whole," he pointed out.

Staquf elaborated that his side seeks to make the most of the forum to contribute to the efforts exerted by Indonesia, as the chair of ASEAN this year, in making the bloc the epicenter of peace, tolerance, and harmony, in addition to the epicenter of growth.

PBNU's goal is reflected in the forum's theme of "ASEAN Shared Civilizational Values: Building an Epicenter of Harmony to Foster Peace, Security, and Prosperity."

He then lauded the leadership of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), saying that the head of state has been inspiring PBNU to invest even greater efforts in making contributions to various agendas aimed at providing benefits to communities, both at domestic and international levels.

Meanwhile, in his speech during the forum, Jokowi warmly welcomed the constructive role played by religious and cultural figures in ASEAN, including through the 2023 ASEAN IIDC, which is being organized in collaboration between the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry and PBNU.

The president also expressed optimism that the forum would serve as a solid foundation for developing ASEAN as the epicenter of growth as well as harmony.

"I believe that the ASEAN communities are capable of emerging as the catalysts for stability and peace in the region and the world by driving ASEAN to not merely become the epicenter of growth but also of harmony," he remarked.

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Translator: Sean Filo, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Anton Santoso
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