Thursday, March 15, 2007

Letter to Rice on Regional Diplomacy

Churches for Middle East Peace Letter to Rice on Regional Diplomacy

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Corinne Whitlatch, Executive Director
March 8, 2007

On March 7, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Board members signed a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice applauding the decision to participate in meetings sponsored by the government of Iraq that will include Syria and Iran.

The signers reflect on CMEP board and staff travels to Syria and Iran while encouraging a broadening of the diplomatic engagement of the United States. CMEP also urges Sec. Rice's urgent and sustained attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as integral to achieving peace and stability in the region. The full text of the letter is included below.

The letter was faxed to key people in the Administration and will be delivered soon to all Congressional offices. CMEP encourages you to print out the letter and send it along with your personal note of recommendation to the attention of your representative and two senators.

Letter in PDF Format:


March 7, 2007
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Rice,

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is encouraged by your announcement that the United States will participate in international meetings sponsored by the Government of Iraq that will also include Syria and Iran. We support broadening the diplomatic engagement of the United States as a means to work for peace and stability in Iraq and the region.

We applaud the decision to join in high-level talks with Iran and Syria. We urge that this be the first step in diplomatic engagement with Syria and with Iran to deal with other outstanding issues that stand in the way of peace and security. We are alarmed that, despite Administration comments to the contrary, there is a widely-held perception that the United States is preparing for a military attack on Iran or is preparing Israel for such an attack. Active diplomacy, accompanied by stated support for peacemaking and respect for the United Nations and international treaties, could restore much of the goodwill that the United States once enjoyed as well as international cooperation in challenging Iran regarding its nuclear program.

Members of the CMEP Board and staff traveled to Syria, in April 2006, and to Iran, in late February 2007, to meet with government officials as well as both Christians and Muslim religious leaders. They report a considerable reservoir of friendly respect for the American people and apparent readiness for diplomatic engagement with the U.S. government. It is our recommendation that the United States look to the growing indigenous pressure for reform as the change agent for good governance in Syria and in Iran and that you engage with those currently in positions of authority.

In the context of a political process on the future of Iraq, we encourage the U.S. government to announce it will, in consultation with all Iraqi leaders and neighbors, develop a plan to work toward full military disengagement. Until then, the United States should avoid escalation.

Concurrent with the new diplomatic approach relative to Iraq, we urge your and the President's urgent and sustained attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which is inexorably linked to all key issues in the Middle East. We agree with the findings of the Iraq Study Group that "the only basis on which peace can be achieved is that set forth in UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and in the principle of "land for peace." Toward the objective of a two-state solution that ends the occupation and provides recognition and security to Israel, we urge you to bring to the table Israelis and Palestinians, who have the authority to negotiate, to broker a comprehensive ceasefire and prepare for negotiating the final status issues: Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees. A more detailed vision of a permanent status agreement from the Quartet would be helpful as a political horizon for the leaders and their people.

We appreciate your attention to our policy recommendations. And know that you are ever in our prayers.


Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Armenian Orthodox Church

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Burkette
Moravian Church in America

Rev. Daryl Byler
Director, Washington Office
Mennonite Central Committee

Jim Fine
Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Jeanette Holt
Associate Director
Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church, (USA)

Rev. Philip Jones
Brethren Witness/Washington Office
Church of the Brethren

R. Aura Kanegis
Director of Public Affairs/Washington Office
American Friends Service Committee

Rob Keithan
Washington Office for Advocacy
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Antonios Kireopoulos
Representative to CMEP for the
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
and National Council of Churches

Rev. James Kofski
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Peter Makari
Executive, Middle East and Europe
Common Global Ministries Board of the
United Church of Christ and
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

T. Michael McNulty, SJ
Justice and Peace Director
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

The Very Rev. George Rados
Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America

Maureen Shea
Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church

Ann Staal
Social Witness/Middle East
Reformed Church in America

Karen Vagley
Director, Washington Office
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Jim Winkler
General Secretary, Board of Church & Society
United Methodist Church


Register today for CMEP's Advocacy Conference
"For the Peace of Jerusalem"
May 6-8, 2007 - Washington, DC


Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Friars OFM (English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM).

Churches for Middle East Peace
Phone: 202-543-1222

Churches for Middle East Peace 110 Maryland Ave. NE Suite 311 Washington DC 20002

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