From: “Faithful America”
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 15:10:30 GMT
Subject: Help make peace with Iran possible
Late last night members of a delegation of U.S. religious leaders returned from a courageous week-long mission in Iran, the purpose of which was to meet with religious and political leaders in Iran to help diffuse tensions and explore ways to forge peace between Iran and the U.S.. Among the members of the delegation was fellow FaithfulAmerican and NCC Interfaith Chief, the Rev. Shanta Premawardhana.
The mission included a fruitful meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – the first time an American delegation has held such a meeting with a sitting Iranian president in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Just moments ago at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, members of the delegation delivered their statement to the press. The text of the statement is printed below.
The statement calls for bold action on the part of the U.S. government, beginning with direct talks with Iran. For you and me, this moment represents a powerful opportunity for people of faith and conscience to help advance the cause of peace.
We need your help today!
After reading the statement, we are asking that you contact your local newspaper, radio or television stations TODAY and share this statement with them. Additionally, we ask that you post it on your blogs, share it with members of your faith community, and forward it to your friends and colleagues. In other words, we need you to help amplify this important message of peace in every way you can. Together, we who love peace can urge our government to step up to the plate and pursue peace, beginning with face to face talks with Iran.
To read more about the delegation’s trip to Iran, visit the NCC Interfaith Weblog.
Peace with Iran is both possible and essential. Your help today can advance a new season of peacemaking.
With grateful hearts for all you do for peace,
Vince Isner, FaithfulAmerica.org
Here is the text of the statement:
US RELIGIOUS DELEGATION FINDS HOPE IN IRAN
As Christian leaders from the United States, we went to Iran at this time of increased tension believing that it is possible to build bridges of understanding between our two countries. We believe military action is not the answer, and that God calls us to just and peaceful relationships within the global community.
We were a diverse group of Christian leaders that included United Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Quaker, and Mennonites who have 17 years of on the ground experience in Iran. We were warmly welcomed by the Iranian people, and our time in Iran convinced us that religious leaders from both countries can help pave the way for mutual respect and peaceful relations between our nations.
During our visit we met with Muslim and Christian leaders, government officials, and other Iranian people. Our final day included a meeting with former President Khatami and current President Ahmadinejad. The meeting with President Ahmadinejad was the first time an American delegation had met with a sitting Iranian President in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours and covered a range of topics including the role of religion in transforming conflict, Iraq, nuclear proliferation, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What the delegation found most encouraging from the meeting with President Ahmadinejad was a clear declaration from him of no intention to acquire or use nuclear weapons, as well as a statement that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through political not military means. Finally, he said, “I have no reservation about conducting talks with American officials if we see some good will.”
We believe it is possible for further dialogue and that there can be a new day in U.S. – Iranian relations. The Iranian government has already built a bridge toward the American people by inviting our delegation to come to Iran. We ask the U.S. government to welcome a similar delegation of Iranian religious leaders to the United States.
As additional steps in building bridges between our nations, we call upon both the United States and Iranian governments to:
- Immediately engage in direct face-to-face talks
- Cease using language that defines the other using “enemy” images
- Promote more people to people exchanges including religious leaders, members of Parliament/Congress, and civil society
As people of faith, we are committed to working towards these and other confidence building measures, which we hope will move our two nations from the precipice of war towards a more just and peaceful settlement.
For more information, contact:
Director of Media Relations
National Council of Churches, USA
475 Riverside Drive Suite 880
New York, NY 10115
Phone: 212 870-2252
Fax 212 870-2030
This Statment also located here.