Characters from legendary puppet show Sesame Street are being used to promote peace in the war torn Middle East.

Episodes of the long-running television series are being produced in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories with the help of a $2.8 million (GBP1.75 million) grant from the EUROPEAN COMMISSION.

A total of 78 stories are being co-produced by Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians, focusing on peace-promoting characteristics that will get the message across to youngsters.

The EC's deputy director-general, MICHAEL LEIGH, says, "Working with children today will help build peace tomorrow.

"The Sesame stories project is an inspiring initiative which should help build understanding and mutual respect, and the Commission's support testifies to our long-term commitment to peaceful co-existence and tolerance in the Middle East."

The SESAME WORKSHOP's president, GARY E KNELL, adds, "We are striving to counter the negative images the children see on television every day and to offer hope for a better world.

"Sesame stories convey realistic and positive messages and provide a valuable tool to children in developing new perspectives about themselves and those around them."

20/10/2003 21:15