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Minister of Foreign Affairs Writes about his Meeting With The Aga Khan - 2008-12-03

Wednesday, 2008, December 3
Minister of Foreign Affairs
George Yeo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Singapore

I learnt much from my meeting with the Aga Khan yesterday. The present Aga Khan is the 49th Imam of the 15 million Nizari Ismaili Shias living in different parts of the world. Through his foundation, the Aga Khan Development Network, he funds all kinds of philanthropic activities in many countries serving Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Once discriminated against in Iran where the Aga Khan's family was from, the Ismaili community there now lives in harmony with the other Shias.

While in Singapore, he met President Nathan and SM Goh Chok Tong. I discussed with the Aga Khan how Singapore and his foundation could work together in Asia and Africa. I also explained what we try to achieve through the Singapore Cooperation Programme which celebrated the enrolment of the 50,000th trainee last year.

The Aga Khan has a deep sense of humanity. He talked about the importance of 'cosmopolitan ethics', based not on religious beliefs but on the common brotherhood of man which all religions subscribe to. If we concentrate on the well-being of the child, all of us can find common cause. If our starting point is a religious abstraction, the differences can never be bridged.

We also reflected on the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. In India, his foundation supports many activities in many states to help Muslims so that they do not become a marginalised community.

George Yeo

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.

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