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Baghdad Demands Direct Talks With Iranian Officials
[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 26 - July 28, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2008-07-29 06:47 (KST)   

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US, Iran in Talks on American Hostages

Wednesday, July 28, 1988

"If you sell arms to the Ayatollah, don't expect a pardon from the president of the United States."
--Governor Dukakis, US presidential candidate

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Iraq's Foreign Minister had a first round of talks with UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar this morning.

Tariq Aziz immediately took a hard line and demanded direct negotiations with Iran as proof that it is sincere in wanting peace. Iraqi officials fear that Tehran is merely seeking a truce to regroup their forces.

"We believe the first step for constructive work is face-to-face negotiations between the two parties under the auspices of the UN Secretary General," Tariq Aziz, told reporters.

"If the Iranians do not accept this, it means they are not sincere about peace," Aziz added.

Iran lodged another formal protest with the UN Security Council over the Iraqi attacks today and again accused Baghdad of using chemical weapons in violation of the 1925 Geneva Convention.

Jesse Jackson Seeks Direct Talks About Hostages

The Reverend Jesse Jackson said today that he was trying to arrange a meeting with the foreign minister of Iran to open discussions on the release of American hostages in Lebanon.

According to American officials, nine American hostages are being held by Islamic fundamentalists, funded and controlled by Tehran. The allegation was confirmed today by Richard W. Murphy, the assistant secretary of state for near eastern and south Asian affairs.

Murphy told the US Congress that American officials believe that Iran controlled the fate of the hostages.

"Jesse Jackson is not going to be used as any type of channel by the US government. He is free to talk to whomever he wants, and so are the Iranians," a State Department official said.

"We generally discourage private individuals from trying to conduct foreign policy. It usually does not work, and it sometimes complicates things," another State Department official told reporters.

(On Oct. 5, we will learn from a former president of Iran, Bani Sadr, that Bush had actually sent a private citizen to discuss the release of the hostages with top Iranian officials.)

"We do not know any of the facts about this matter," said James B. Steinberg, deputy issues director for the Dukakis campaign.

"As a matter of general policy, Governor Dukakis has said that he does not favor private citizens independently conducting foreign policy," Steinberg added.

The secretary general said he had raised with Velayati the issue of Western hostages. He did not, however, disclose the Iranian diplomat's response.

"This is a question on which one has to be very discreet," Perez de Cuellar said. "I raised it very, very specifically."

The Race to the White House

Most observers of US politics believe that foreign policy should help George H. W. Bush in this election campaign. Bush is currently trailing Dukakis by about 10 points. But all also agree that there is a danger for Bush regarding his dealings with Iran.

The Machiavelli-style attempt to trade US arms for Americans hostages still reminds people of the most ignominious episode of the Reagan years. The vice president's refusal to discuss his part in it may not help his cause.

Middle East News

Today, Jordan cancelled a $1.3 billion development plan in the West Bank. For the first time in two decades, Israeli diplomats arrived in Moscow.

Back to the Present

On July 21, former CIA case officer Bob Baer gave an interview on BBC regarding his view on the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. As a side comment, Baer mentioned that Tehran was behind the bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli Embassy (1992) and the AMIA Jewish center (1994), as well as the bombing in Saudi Arabia of the Al-Khobar Towers (1996).

I pointed out to him that the FBI never found evidence that Iran was involved in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

In late 1997, Bernazzani was in charge of the FBI's office of Hezbollah operations. He would later head the New Orleans FBI office. Bernazzani was sent to Buenos Aires to lead a team of FBI specialists helping Argentine investigators to crack the AMIA bombing case. Bernazzani stated that he had found no evidence linking Tehran to the bombing. An Iranian defector, named Mesbahi, had reported to several law authorities that Tehran was behind these bombings as well as the destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

According to Bernazzani, Mesbahi had been discredited among US analysts because "he had lost his access to high-level Iranian officials well before the 1994 bombing and was poor, even broke."

The reply from Baer was rather direct. "Why should the truth matter? We can't change the regime in Tehran anyhow. They're more likely to change the regime in Washington. [Let us prepare for another] October surprise "

"Abroad At Home; Foreign Policy Paradox," July 28, 1988.

"Jackson Is Seeking Talk With Iranian to Free Hostages," July 28, 1988.

"Iraqi Aid Takes Hard Line at U.N.," July 28, 1988.

"Iranian Accuses Iraqi Troops of Preparing New Offensive," July 28, 1988.


Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost."
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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