Iran's President Mohammad Khatami has called on world nations to turn information exchange into a chance for dialogue and bridging divides among societies, IRNA reported from Geneva, Switzerland.
"We must think of a solution so that information exchange results in a dialogue and bridges the gaps," he told a UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) here Wednesday.
The Iranian president is the architect of "dialogue among civilizations", which was declared as an international theme by the United Nations in 2001.
"I talked about the need for dialogue among civilizations at the start of this millennium; in the metaphorical age too, we must strive for promotion of dialogue among civilizations," he said.
Delegates from some 150 countries, including about 50 heads of state, are meeting in the western Swiss city of Geneva to reportedly explore issues thrown up by the growing use of technology such as mobile phones, the Internet and electronic media -- to access information.
Khatami rued "the historical human suffering from divides and separations, which have been reflected in various languages and fields of knowledge," saying "the information society must consider cultural diversity as the foundation of coexistence among the human society and rely on that."
"Can we be hopeful of reducing distances at a time when we are faced with a big change in information?" the Iranian president asked, adding "We consider entry into information society as a new chance for all the world people".
"We are worried about inequality in developing infrastructures and global access to information and communications.
"Our aim must be to turn digital divide into digital opportunities through strengthening digital solidarity," he added.
In a part of his keynote speech, the Iranian president stressed that "establishing and strengthening knowledge-oriented societies require commitment to moral codes as well as human rights, democratic principles and tools of good governance".
"Statesmen and specialists must move to delegate power to people by facilitating electronic processes.
"In such a landscape, we must focus on restoring such rights as the right of development, the right of communications and the right of information," he added.
The Iranian president made several proposals, saying "I hope that" delegates from 150 countries, including 50 heads of state, will take into account at their final declaration the facts that: "We all pay attention to the unjust and worrisome state of the present world where access to information has become a tool for exerting pressures and unilateralism.
"New conventions are devised for understanding of principles of the human life, which are among prerequisites of the information society.
"To ensure an indiscriminate access of individuals, institutions and countries to information, international supervisory instruments and methods are applied so that no government can feel free to apply unilateral decisions in order to deprive other nations of their rights to proper flow of information.
"The global Internet management finds comprehensive and democratic strategies so that all those involved in this field, including the developing countries, play an effective role.
"A just balance is struck between the rights of authors and owners (of the information products) as well as the users in order to establish and strengthen knowledge-oriented societies.
"The process of democracy as well as people's free and just access to sources of power, wealth and standing at national and international levels are facilitated and consolidated."
Khatami concluded his speech by reciting a poem from the well-known Iranian mystic poet Maulavi, better known in the West as Rumi: "Since awareness is the requirement of the soul, whoever is more knowledgeable has a strong soul."
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