Backgrounding agency helped clerical reps in Iran

An opinion item at The Reporter of Vacaville, California, notes the role of international peace building initiative Search for Common Ground in the background effort to send clerics, including The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, to assist in the long effort of securing freedom for hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer from imprisonment in Iran.

Although not much noted in the media, SFCG worked tirelessly behind the scenes to secure their release.

Its senior adviser, former Ambassador William Miller, with the support of SFCG president and co-founder John Marks, helped arrange the final meetings between Iranian authorities, American clerical representatives that led to freedom for the American hikers.

Miller arranged the meeting and negotiations between Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Catholic archbishop emeritus of Washington and Iranian authorities, in particular Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

“President Ahmadinejad told us that it was because of our presence that they were able to move the process forward in releasing the hikers,” Bishop Chane has said.

The group’s foray into Iran is nothing new, according to material released on its web site just around the time the hikers were released.

SFCG has worked to keep open channels of dialogue between the US and Iran for over ten years. In the absence of official diplomatic channels, the need for understanding and respect between the people of America and Iran is even more pronounced and SFCG has worked toward this goal through the facilitated exchange of people and ideas.

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