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Religious Leaders Praise Administration for Agreement with North Korea -- Urge Similar Strategy with Iran

Contact: Jessica Wilbanks, 505-758-1206, jwilbanks@faithfulsecurity.org

WASHINGTON, July 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- A group of prominent religious leaders released a statement today congratulating the Bush administration for successful diplomatic efforts toward the denuclearization of North Korea and urging the administration to apply a similar strategy to the Iranian nuclear standoff. The statement coincides with the announcement early Monday that North Korea has begun to dismantle its nuclear facilities under international inspection, to fulfill its obligations under the February 2007 denuclearization agreement.

"The agreement with North Korea demonstrates the value of diplomacy in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons," the statement reads. "Our religious traditions teach that efforts should be made to explore every alternative in resolving a conflict before going to war."

Bishop Thomas Wenski of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: "On Easter Sunday Pope Benedict said, 'Through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope.' Nonproliferation is a sign of hope for a more secure world. The administration is to be commended for securing a negotiated resolution of the nuclear question with North Korea. We urge a similar approach with Iran. These two cases point to the wider search for a more peaceful world that respects nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament."

Professor Glen Stassen of Fuller Theological Seminary remarked, "The signatories to this statement join the growing consensus of American religious leaders—in particular notable evangelicals, like Franklin Graham and Rick Warren—who believe in the importance of dropping everything and going to talk with adversaries in order to make peace."

In a July 2006 interview, Graham stated, "I want to encourage the president, I want to encourage this administration, those in Congress—we need to talk to the North Koreans face to face, period. Eyeball to eyeball. And there is a lot that can be accomplished if we simply just do that."

Similarly, Warren has said of last July's North Korean missile tests: "I am not a politician. I am a pastor. But I do know that in any conflict—whether in a marriage, in business or between nations—as long as the parties keep talking, there is hope. My plea to everyone involved in this diplomatic process is to please, keep talking."

Statement text and signatories found here.