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Bonn Accepts Iranian Envoy Over Vociferous US Protests

October 9, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Rejecting strong and repeated U.S. complaints over the past two months, the West German government has welcomed a new Iranian ambassador identified by the United States as a participant in the 444-day seizure of American diplomats in Tehran, the State Department said Friday.

Since August, when the United States learned that West Germany had accepted Iran’s appointment of Mehdi Ahari Mostafavi as envoy to Bonn, U.S. officials have beseeched the Germans to reverse their decision, department officials said.

″We have raised it a number of times with the German government,″ said spokesman Charles E. Redman. ″The reason we raised it is because we have persuasive information that this individual was associated with the taking of American hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.″

Despite the American arguments, Bonn has declined to reverse its acceptance, said a West German diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. Besides getting the information on Mostafavi too late, the evidence wasn’t conclusive enough to warrant action, the diplomat added.

The case appeared to be a further example of the difficulty the Reagan administration has encountered in getting America’s closest allies to accept the precise measures the United States believes are necessary to combat terrorism and its alleged sponsors, notably Iran.

The coordination attempts date back to the days of the 1979 embassy seizure and are continuing with efforts to get allied support for U.S. actions in the war-torn Persian Gulf.

″We believe that this whole incident points up the whole need for better and earlier, more timely coordination and cooperation among countries of the world when we are dealing with other nations known to be involved in sponsoring terrorism,″ Redman said.

Mostafavi, who is in his 30s, was identified by State Department officials as a protege of Iranian cleric Moussavi Khoeinei, the driving force behind the militants who seized the U.S. embassy. The officials declined to divulge the ″persuasive information″ about Mostafavi that was given to the Germans.

The West German official said Mostafavi was ambassador in Austria before being assigned to Bonn and that the United States complained to the Austrian government in 1985, to no avail.

When the United States learned in August that the Iranian had been appointed to the West German post, he already had been accepted by the West German government. Under international custom, host countries have the right to accept or turn away proposed ambassadors and are given the names in private before the appointments are made public.

″The main thing is that once agreeement was granted it was too late,″ the West German diplomat said.

A U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, asserted however, that it would have been easy for the West Germans to change their minds because Mostafavi had not yet formally presented his credentials.

″All they had to do was rescind agreement on the appointment,″ the official said. ″There was plenty of time before his credentials were formally accepted for them to change their minds. Once his credentials are accepted they have to actually expel him from the country as a ’persona non grata,‴ a step countries take in rare cases.

Mostafavi has not yet presented his credentials to West Germany’s president, Richard von Weizsacker, but the West German official insisted it is still too late to stop the process.

The United States and France have cut diplomatic ties with Iran, but most other Western allies have retained formal relations with the Iranian government.

The United States and West Germany were involved in a terrorism-releated controversy earlier this year, when Mohammed Ali Hamadi, a Middle Easterner suspected of involvment in the hijacking of a TWA jet in Beirut in 1985, was arrested in Frankfurt.

For months, the United States asked West Germany to turn Hamadi over for prosecution in the United States, where he was wanted for the hijacking and the murder of a passenger on the jet, Navy diver Robert Stethem.

Amid reports they were concerned about terrorist attacks on Germans, officials in Bonn eventually rejected the U.S. extradition request, deciding to prosecute him in West Germany instead. The case has not yet come to trial.

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