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As we continue our preparations for our delegation’s trip to Iran, one of my Mennonite colleagues (director of the MCC Washington Office and member of my local church), Daryl Byler, has written an Open Letter to President Bush about our trip. Daryl articulates clearly my hope not only for our trip, but also my wishes for our own government and leadership by President Bush. I hope you will take the time to read his letter. Here are some key points:

“I know you have concerns about Iran’s words and actions. That’s precisely why it is so important for you to talk with Iran. Middle East experts from both political parties are urging you to do so.

The recent bipartisan Baker-Hamilton report called for direct U.S. talks with Iran. Prominent members of your own party are encouraging your administration to engage Iran.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., wrote recently in The Washington Quarterly that the United States should be willing to begin bilateral negotiations with Iran. “A good
starting point for U.S.-Iranian relations would be to treat them as equals for the purpose of negotiations,” wrote Specter, who has a long history of holding conversations with adversaries. Similarly, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., have called for direct U.S. talks with Iran.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Wayne Gilchrist, R-Md., recently sent you a letter signed by 18 other members of Congress urging your administration to open up direct diplomatic channels with Tehran.”

Plus, a spoonful of sugar for this medicine:

“I commend your administration for the recent talks with North Korea. They have proved fruitful. The world will be safer as a result.

I wish you were talking to Tehran, too.”

Jeff Carr is chief operations officer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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