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Christianity's largest ecumenical movement said Monday that the US and its allies must settle their dispute over Iran's nuclear program through negotiation because the Middle East should not suffer another war "that is unlawful, immoral and ill-conceived."
The World Council of Churches, which brings together about 350 Protestant, Orthodox, and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians, also urged the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.
"Don't make war in Iran," the Geneva-based WCC said. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the council but cooperates with it.
US-Iran tensions are running high over US allegations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and supplying Iraq's Shi'ite militias with weapons that have killed US troops. Iran denies both claims.
The US mission in Geneva declined to comment on the church group's statement. US President George W. Bush said last month he was hopeful of convincing Teheran through peaceful means to give up any ambitions it has in developing a weapons program.
In a statement summarizing a meeting it held last week in Armenia, the World Council of Churches said the US and its allies must "settle the dispute over Iran's nuclear program through negotiations and not through the use of military force."
"Threats to begin another war in the Middle East defy the lessons of both history and ethics," the statement said. "The region and its people must not suffer another war, let alone one that is unlawful, immoral and ill-conceived once again."
The church group also criticized Iranian belligerence toward the United States and Israel.
The World Council of Churches also called its members to pressure their governments "to break the international silence on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq" and provide more assistance to displaced and refugee Iraqis.