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A coalition of U.S. mainstream churches urged Condoleezza Rice to assuage concerns in the Middle East that Israel or the United States is planning to attack Iran.

The letter Thursday from Churches for Peace in the Middle East applauded the U.S. secretary of state for agreeing to attend multilateral talks on Iraq that would include representatives of Iran and Syria, countries otherwise isolated by the United States.

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, the letter said. 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.

Israel and the United States deny plans to attack Iran to stop it from achieving nuclear weapons, but will not count out military action.

CMEP represents a coalition of mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic and eastern Orthodox churches as well as Mennonites and Quakers.

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