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Iranian president meets with religious leaders

NEW YORK (CNS): United States religious leaders are “deeply concerned about the prospect of war with Iran”, said a professor from a Catholic college who was part of an interfaith delegation that met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on September 26 in New York.

But Professor Joseph Fahey, professor of religious studies at Manhattan College in Riverdale, said he left the meeting feeling hopeful because of statements Mr Ahmadinejad made about the “renunciation of war and the quest for peace”.

Protests greeted Mr Ahmadinejad while he was in New York to address the United Nations Security Council on September 25. He spoke to an audience at Columbia University the same day.

The Iranian president has been criticised for questioning whether the Holocaust and the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II ever happened. He also has said Israel should not exist.

In addition, his country’s nuclear program has brought the threat of sanctions from the US, France and other countries who say Iran is enriching uranium for nuclear weapons, but Iranian officials say the program’s goal is to produce energy.

In his UN remarks Mr Ahmadinejad said the nuclear issue is closed.

The interfaith delegation had an hour-long meeting with the Iranian leader.

The religious group – made up of more than 100 faith representatives, including Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Unitarians – stressed the need for diplomacy to prevent war.

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