Nobel Peace winners in Japan argue for nuke ban

"Past is past, now we must look forward," said the Dalai Lama.

Hiroshima: Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including the Dalai Lama, argued for a world without nuclear weapons on Sunday at a ceremony in the Japanese city where the first wartime atomic bomb exploded 65 years ago.

The sombre event marked the end of a three-day meeting of peace prize winners. It was tinged with joy at the news that Myanmar democracy leader and fellow prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, detained for more than 15 of the last 21 years, was freed last evening.

"Past is past, now we must look forward," said the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. "We must utilise dialogue, with the spirit of reconciliation. That is the only way to solve problems. Using force is outdated."

The laureates also expressed dismay that this year`s recipient, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, remains in jail.

The peace prize winners laid a wreath of flowers and bowed their heads at a monument to the victims of the atomic attack as Hiroshima`s eternal Peace Flame burned in the background. The ceremony was attended by about 7,000 people, according to city officials.

Jody Williams, who won in 1997 for her work to ban landmines, read a joint statement by the laureates calling for a nuclear arms ban.

"Nuclear weapons cannot be disinvested, but they can and must be outlawed, just as chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have been declared illegal," she said.

The annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates assembles past award recipients to call attention to their achievements and push the prize`s overall message of human rights and non-violence. The previous 10 meetings were held in Europe, but organisers chose Hiroshima this year to underscore the anti-nuclear theme.

Laureate Frederik Willem de Klerk, the former South African president, said next year`s meeting will probably be held in Washington, although the theme has yet to be decided.

This year`s event included well-known Beijing critics the Dalai Lama, a former prize winner, and Wu`er Kaixi, a student leader at 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square who is a colleague Liu.