Moorhead, Minn. — The peace forum traditionally draws big names, and this year is no exception. The two-day event includes speeches by U.N. Undersecretary Anwarul Chowdhury, former Vice President Walter Mondale, and former U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
The event has also gotten the attention of protestor Brad Cloven. Cloven was marching outside the forum Fridy afternoon, with a United States flag and poster supporting military action to "free" Iraq.
"I want people to understand that peace is good but freedom is better," Cloven says. "The Iraqis deserve freedom, and cowering in fear of their impending nuclear weapons isn't freedom for us either. It's time to take Saddam out."
Many of the attendees at the forum are students. Nearly 2,000 people are expected to attend the various events. LuAnn Erickson is a junior at Concordia College in Moorhead. Erickson says she wants a better awareness of what is going on in the world.
"I have family members who actually are going to be leaving on the first of March to Turkey. Actually my brother. It's his second war, all my family is military," says Erickson. "That's why it pulls at my heart strings a little bit more than I think maybe the average college junior. But it's kind of important to me, since my whole family is military I find it very interesting."
Friday's opening session came after chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix appeared before the U.N. Security Council. Blix said Iraq must explain what happened to suspected stocks of anthrax and long range missiles.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, another speaker, said he is hopeful the United States can resolve its problems with Iraq without going to war.
"My hope is that we will find some way to move Saddam Hussein in compliance with the U.N. resolution that requires him to disclose and destroy weapons of mass destruction," says Mondale. "And that we will (be) able to do it through the Security Council, or at least through vigorous system of alliances around the world."
Mondale says a more vigorous inspection system might be helpful in resolving the crisis.
U.N. Undersecretary Anwarul Chowdhury was the keynote speaker for the opening session. Chowdhury says events like the peace forum are important, especially for young people.
"Each one of them should feel that we have something to contribute and as they grow up, they should carry this ability to contribute to the cause of peace throughout their life," says Chowdhury.
Friday's session also included an address by former U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.