UNITED NATIONS — President George W. Bush said Thursday that faith changed his life long ago and has sustained him through the challenges of his presidency.
"Faith will sustain me for the rest of my days," Bush told a conference at the United Nations. The two-day conference was designed to bridge differences between religions and cultures.
Bush met on the sidelines of the conference with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a country criticized for religious intolerance. All 192 U.N. member states were invited to the event, which the king set up following one he helped organize in July in Madrid.
"We may profess differ creeds and worship in different places, but our faith leads us to common values," Bush said, adding that all people have the right to worship as they see fit.
Abdullah, whose country bans non-Muslims from openly practicing their religion, has expressed interest in increasing inter-religious goodwill, encouraging meetings between sects of Islam and asking Muslims to reach out to their non-Muslim neighbors. Abdullah warned delegates Wednesday that human beings must "live together in peace or harmony, or they will inevitably be consumed by the flames of misunderstanding, malice and hatred."
The king, however, made no mention of criticism from Human Rights Watch and others about Saudi Arabia's refusal to allow the public practice of any religion other than Islam and restrictions on those who do not follow the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.