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U.S. religious leaders say Iranian-British dispute
shows need for diplomacy

Philadelphia, March 26, 2007 The delegation of U.S. religious leaders who visited Iran last month says the "Iranian seizure of British naval personnel underscores in dramatic fashion our call for diplomatic relations" between the U.S. and Iran. 

"The US and Iran should have the same channels as the United States did with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War to avoid circumstances where misunderstandings, accidents, or other unanticipated events could lead to a military confrontation," said a statement [complete text below] released last Friday (March 23) by eight members of the delegation including the Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, associate general secretary for interfaith relations at the National Council of Churches USA.

"When political leaders mess up, religious leaders ought to be here to go and build up the people, build up relationships, and bring the conversation up to the high moral ground," the Rev. Dr. Premawardhana told this past weekend's PBS broadcast, NOW.  A producer from NOW accompanied the 13 religious leaders on its February trip to Tehran and the holy city of Qom.  The program may be viewed online at http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/312/video.html .

The leaders of Baptist, Quaker, Mennonite, Evangelical, United Methodist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic church groups were the first official American delegation of any kind to visit Iran in 28 years.  They met with Iranian religious and government officials including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the controversial president of Iran. 

The statement's release came following a meeting here of the delegation to plan future actions designed to help lessen tensions between Iran and the U.S. 


 

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org .
Latest NCC News at www.councilofchurches.org .


U.S. Religious Leaders Issue Statement Regarding Iranian-British Incident in the Gulf. 

Renew Call for Direct Talks with Iran

(March 23, 2007)  The incident today of Iranian seizure of British naval personnel underscores in dramatic fashion our call for diplomatic relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Iran does have an ambassador in London and we understand that communications between Great Britain and Iran are already underway.  We pray that this matter will be resolved quickly and peacefully, without harm to human life.

The US and Iran should have the same channels as the United States did with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War to avoid circumstances where misunderstandings, accidents, or other unanticipated events could lead to a military confrontation.  That is why we again call for diplomatic ties with Iran, believing that a new day for US-Iran relations is both possible and necessary.

Mary Ellen McNish
General Secretary,
American Friends Service Committee*

Rev. Ron Flaming
Director of International Programs
Mennonite Central Committee

Rev. J. Daryl Byler
Washington Office Director
Mennonite Central Committee

Joe Volk
Executive Secretary
Friends Service Committee on National Legislation

Jonathan Evans
Special Representative for Iran
American Friends Service Committee

Maureen Shea
Director, Office of Government Relations
Episcopal Church USA

Rev. Dr. Shanta Devadasa Premawardhana
Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

Rev. Jeff Carr
Chief Operating Officer
Sojourner/Call to Renewal

*Organizations listed for affiliation purposes only
 


 

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