Monday, January 01, 2007

World wishes for peace in 2007

From the slopes of Mount Fuji to the banks of the River Thames, 2007 began with a common theme: Hope for prosperity, health and peace.

Revellers from around the world rang in the new year with parties and fireworks, including dazzling pyrotechnic displays in Romania and Bulgaria, which on Monday became the newest members of the European Union.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict prayed for peace in the Middle East, asking that people work "courageously" toward an end to the Holy Land's conflict.

Meanwhile, Japanese Emperor Akihito celebrated the birth of his grandson, the imperial familys first male heir in four decades, with a poem issued to the public.

Also in Japan, thousands climbed mountains, some scaling famed Mount Fuji, to greet the first dawn of the year. Police expected crowds on the peaks to reach 15,000.

In London, hundreds of thousands gathered for the annual New Year's Day parade.

Danish Queen Margrethe urged Danes to be more understanding of foreign cultures in a message issued a year after the international uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad first published in a Danish newspaper.

EU officials joined Bulgaria's leaders in raising the EU flag at a ceremony in Sofia.

At Berlin's signature Brandenburg Gate, some 20 bands entertained more than one million people as they welcomed in 2007.

In Australia, fireworks exploded over Sydney's Harbour Bridge as a million onlookers greeted the New Year. Sydney, one of the worlds first major cities to see the dawn of the new year, put on a lavish fireworks display on its harbour shore to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its iconic bridge.

Happy 2007 all. Let the madness begin tomorrow.


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