SOURCE: Mount Rushmore Institute

August 15, 2007 17:39 ET

U.N. Special Envoy Will Join Mideast Forum at Rushmore

RAPID CITY, SD--(Marketwire - August 15, 2007) - A United Nations special envoy has joined a growing list of distinguished scholars, analysts, activists and educators who will gather in the shadows of America's Shrine of Democracy in mid-October to discuss the challenges of security, peace, stability and democracy in the Middle East, the non-profit Mount Rushmore Institute announced today.

Michael C. Williams of the United Kingdom was appointed in May by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. Williams also serves as the Secretary-General's Envoy to the Quartet.

The two-day forum at Mount Rushmore National Memorial Oct. 16-17, is open to the public and is designed to promote dialogue and expand America's knowledge of the complex issues surrounding tensions in the Middle East, said James Nelson, president of the Mount Rushmore Institute.

"To have Michael Williams, one of the ranking U.N. officials, participate in this Mideast forum in the heartland of America is extremely exciting," Nelson said. "The Middle East remains a tinder box at the center of many of our most vexing global challenges. Oil, religious extremism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are a combustible combination. This forum, featuring many distinguished authorities on the region, is intended to create a greater understanding of the challenges that confront us."

Other distinguished panelists include former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel Kurtzer, now chair of Middle Eastern Policy Studies at Princeton University; former National Intelligence Council Chair Ellen Laipson, now president and CEO of the Henry L. Stimson Center; former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security and the National Security Chief of Staff Mara Rudman, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a frequent media commentator; and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

"The Mount Rushmore Institute has designed this unique two-day forum to encourage learning and to promote dialogue with this diverse group of individuals in a non-partisan effort to address these lingering questions," Nelson said. "Those who attend will gain a greater understanding of America's policy options in the Middle East."

For more information about the Mideast forum, contact the Mount Rushmore Institute at 605/341-8883 or go on-line at or

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    James Nelson

    Dr. Richard Gowen