A delegation of liberal religious leaders returned the other day from a trip to Iran, where they met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The group has released a statement that urges face-to-face talks between America and Iran and asks both countries to “cease using language that defines the other using ‘enemy’ images.”
The statement also includes this:
“What the delegation found most encouraging from the meeting with President Ahmadinejad was a clear declaration from him that Iran has 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. He said, ‘I have no reservation about conducting talks with American officials if we see some goodwill.’ “
The idea that Ahmadinejad believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved through political means is bound to raise some eyebrows. Hasn’t he said that Israel will soon be destroyed?
Before the group went, several participants said they would talk to Ahmadinejad about his Holocaust denial conference. But it’s not mentioned in the statement.
There are a lot of questions that people might want to ask of those who took part in a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with the Iranian president. I don’t see that any are answered in the group’s statement, which you can read “here.”:http://www.ncccusa.org/news/070226iranopen.html
Participants on the trip were:
J. Daryl Byler, Director, Mennonite Central Committee’s Washington Office
Jeff Carr, Chief Operating Officer, Sojourners/Call to Renewal
Ron Flaming, Director of International Programs, Mennonite Central Committee
Edward Martin, Director of Mennonite Central Committee’s Central and Southern Asia Program
Jonathan Evans, Special Representative for Iran at the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Shanta Premawardhana, Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA for Interfaith Relations and Director of the NCC Interfaith Relations Commission
Maureen Shea, Director of Government Relations, The Episcopal Church
Patricia Shelly, Executive Board of Mennonite Church USA
Geraldine Sicola, Associate General Secretary for International Programs, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
David Robinson, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA
Joe Volk, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
James Winkler, General Secretary of the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS), The United Methodist Church