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Iran Video Special: When Khamenei Met the US Hostage (and Why It's Important Now)

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The video below is extraordinary, showing Deputy Minister of Defense and MP Ali Khamenei in discussion with US diplomat John Limbert, one of the 52 American hostages in the 1979/81 US Embassy takeover. But the 2009 sequel to the story may be even more significant.

Although the footage had been shown on Iranian television at the time and had been posted by Liveleak in 2008, it rose to prominence when it was posted on the Supreme Leader's website on 2 November. At that time John Limbert was a prominent ex-diplomat, soon to appear on US television talking about the 30th anniversary of the Revolutionary and Embassy crisis. Now, however, John Limbert has been appointed to the new post of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran.

So why does Ayatollah Khamenei's camp "out" this video just before the Obama Administration offers a significant signal on US-Iranian relations? Could it be that the Supreme Leader is wanting to turn Embassy pictures of 1979, which have spurred anti-Iran hostility for a generation in the US, into images of warmth and friendship? And could it be that the US Government, far from pushing a hard line on the Iranian nuclear programme (and the post-election crisis and human rights) leading to further sanctions or a suspension of talks, is demonstrating its renewed dedication to "engagement"?

In other words, are the Leader of Iran and the Leader of the Free World now walking alongside each other, unclenched fist in unclenched fist?

Summary of video from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

In the video Khamenei, who was then a deputy defense minister and a member of parliament, is seen chatting with one of the hostages, who appears to be U.S. diplomat John Limbert, who speaks fluent Persian.

Khamenei asks him about the detention conditions and issues such as food, hygiene, or whether the hostages have access to books. “Any shortcomings, problems, or difficulties can be removed,” says Khamenei.

The U.S. hostage responds that there is only one problem. Khamenei quickly reacts by saying “right, the fact that you’re here” and then expresses hope that “the Iranian criminal,“ the shah, will be delivered to Iran and the hostages will be free to go. The hostage replies: “Inshallah.”

Later in the video Khamenei appears to be giving an interview to Iranian state television. He describes his meeting with the hostages and gives details about their detention, including what he says is the good library they have access to.

In the interview, Khamenei says that the hostages are “very happy” with their living conditions and the food they’re receiving. “American food is being specially prepared for them,” says Khamenei.

Reader Comments (3)

[...] rest is here: Iran Video Special: When Khamenei Met the US Hostage (and Why It's … Share and [...]

This is a well know video. In it John Limbert agrees with Khamenei that the Shah is a criminal, dar an shakki nist, there no doubt about it, he says in response to the point; now it remains to be seen if Limbert agrees that Khamenei is a criminal, too. We have a period of unprecedented violence in Iran, systematic rape and torture and killings, what does Limbert think about this. He must take an issue with human rights, if not he will be playing into the hands of the IRI.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHossein

"In it John Limbert agrees with Khamenei that the Shah is a criminal, dar an shakki nist, there no doubt about it, he says in response to the point;"

Considering the circumstances that he found himself in at that time -- could he have said anything else?????


November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Ward

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