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Remarks at Iftaar Held at the Foreign Press Center

Steven R. Mann, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia

Washington, DC
September 27, 2007

MR. DUGUID: (Inaudible) welcoming you. Thank you for sharing this time with us.

We have with us this evening Ambassador Steven Mann who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South/Central -- South Asian and Central Asian Affairs, and he is going to make a few remarks of welcome for you.

Ambassador?

PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MANN: Well, thank you very much. Good evening and Ramadan Kareem.

And, I’d like to second and to stress our thanks from us at the Department of State for joining us on this very special occasion. And, Ramadan is an extremely special time. We understand this; and it’s a time for clarity of thought, for individual and personal rededication and renewal.

What I see, speaking personally, what I see is an experience that impresses me greatly in terms of the days of Ramadan being devoted to individual devotion, to rededication, to personal determination, among the persons who observe this month of Ramadan. Again we see, and I see personally, how much it is an opportunity for unity, for community, and it’s something that our missions overseas have come to embrace, to embrace this Iftaar tradition. And now, in the Department of State as well, we’re coming to embrace it as well, as a means of demonstrating the commitment of the United States to cross-cultural understanding but also as a means of showing our respect for one of the world’s great religions.

We are very gratified that we can all be here together tonight. We understand that in Ramadan this is an occasion that is celebrated communally. It’s celebrated together, and Iftaars are the occasion to be with the people, people you are closest to -- with family, with friends, community; and that underscores, again, how honored we are that you have accepted our invitation to come here together for an Iftaar.

So, it is a very important moment for us, especially in a time when there is so much, I think, misunderstanding or distortion that we see about religion, about ethnicity, about community being used to individual -- or I should say to political aims. To come together in an occasion like this is a time I think in which we can celebrate the values that all of us hold: the values of charity, the values of tolerance, the values of respect and faith. And it is something again that I find both meaningful on behalf of us in the Department of State, and it’s something that I, as a non-Muslim, nevertheless greatly admire and respect in the observances that I see.

So it is with admiration, it’s with respect, and with thanks that I welcome you here tonight, and again, wish you Ramadan Kareem.



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