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Week of 3.23.07

Talking to Iran

President Bush has declared Iran to be part of the "Axis of Evil" and administration officials have said no options -- including military options -- are off the table in the effort to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. In the midst of this standoff between Washington and Tehran, some U.S. religious leaders are trying to succeed where politicians and diplomats cannot.

Producer Jamila Paksima revisits her birth country of Iran with American spiritual leaders hoping to promote dialogue on such explosive issues as nuclear proliferation, the Iraq war, and the holocaust.

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"When political leaders mess up, religious leaders ought to be here to go and build up the people, build up relationships, and bring the conversation up the high moral ground," said one of the U.S. delegates, Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, who represented Episcopalians, Methodists, Evangelicals and dozens of other denominations.

The 13-member team met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, top officials in the government, and several of the ayatollahs who have a powerful influence on government policy. Can this delegation of mostly Christian leaders defuse the standoff and reopen the lines of communication between America and Iran?

SLIDESHOW: Iran Delegation
Slideshow: Iran Delegation
Related Links:

» More About the Iran Delegation

» NOW: George Mitchell on the Middle East Crisis

» NOW on the News: Lila Azam Zanganeh on Engaging Iran

» NOW on the News: Maziar Bahari on the Similarities Between the U.S. and Iran

» NOW Topic Search: Foreign Affairs, Government/Politics, Religion

» Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly: Iran Notebook