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article imageOp-Ed: Iran Denies US Claim of Meeting, Letter Delivery In The Hague

By Johnny Simpson     Apr 1, 2009 in World
On March 31st, SOS Clinton said that Richard Holbrooke met with his Iranian counterpart in The Hague, and delivered a letter requesting the release or whereabouts of three Americans in Iran. Today, Iran's Foreign Ministry denied the meeting took place.
From BBC News, via the HuffPo Iran page:
On Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told Iran's Mehr news agency: "No meeting or talk, be it formal or informal, official or unofficial between Iran and US officials took place on the sideline of this conference. We categorically deny the reports published in this regard," he said. Mr Ghashghavi said that as no meeting had taken place, "naturally no letter was handed to Iran from the American side."
I myself, along with the rest of the world's media, reported far and wide on this significant development, which signified the first substantive diplomatic interaction between any senior US and Iranian officials since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even confirmed the meeting between Mr. Holbrooke and Mr. Akhoondzadeh, as well as delivery of the letter.
Yet today the Iranian Foreign Ministry categorically denied both the meeting, and the letter delivery, ever happened. The implications of this Iranian claim are huge. Either Secretary Clinton was misinformed or lied about the meeting, or the Iranians are denying it ever happened for political purposes. For example, denying delivery of the letter requesting the release of Iranian-Americans Roxana Saberi and Esha Momeni and the whereabouts of Robert Levinson deflects, at least for the moment, a very hot political potato for Iran.
One must also keep in mind that President Ahmadinejad, running on a hardline platform, is up for re-election in less than three months. The appearance of Ahmadinejad's government having any dealings at all with the Great Satan would impact his hardline constituency, and might even cost him the presidency.
Regardless, the question remains. And it is a big one, considering the critical issues involved, i.e. a written diplomatic request by the US government to the government of Iran, confirmed by Secretary of State Clinton and denied by the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Who is telling the truth?
I fully expect the world press to follow up with some very tough questioning for SOS Clinton, Ambassador Holbrooke and Iranian delegate Mohammad Mehdi Akhoondzadeh, to whom the letter was allegedly delivered. Considering the intense press coverage of the event, it is also quite possible a photo of any such meeting may surface. All are currently participating in a conference on Afghanistan in The Hague, Brussels, also being attended by representatives from over 80 nations.
Iran accepted an invitation by the US government to attend the conference.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Iran, Obama, Clinton, Islamic republic, Roxana saberi
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