Iranian Says Shultz Recently Sent Emissary to Meet With Iran Arms Buyers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Secretary of State George Shultz sent a U.S. emissary to meet with Iranian arms purchasers as recently as ″a few weeks ago,″ the speaker of the Iranian parliament said Monday.
Hashemi Rafsanjani said Monday in Tehran in an interview with the CBS Evening News that a State Department emissary had tried to contact Iranian purchasing agents with suggestions. He did not specify what those suggestions were.
Last week, Shultz reportedly told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in closed-door testimony that State Department and CIA officials told Iranian representatives Dec. 13 and Dec. 15 that the United States had no intention of continuing arms sales to Tehran.
″A few weeks ago, Mr. Shultz himself had sent, dispatched a person by the name of Dunbar to contact our purchasing agents,″ Rafsanjani said through an interpreter. The emissary was identified as Charles Dunbar, an official on the State Department’s Near East desk.
″He was carrying some sort of plan containing suggestions,″ Rafsanjani said of Dunbar.
″But we told him that we no more receive any suggestions because we have lost faith in you,″ Rafsanjani said.
Laura Jehl, a State Department spokeswoman, said the department had no immediate comment on Rafsanjani’s remarks.
But a top State Department official said last week that Iranian representatives suggested in a Dec. 13 meeting in Geneva with State Department and CIA officials that U.S. arms sales to Iran continue.
That was ″unequivocally″ rejected by President Reagan the following day in a meeting with Shultz, said the official, who asked not to be identified by name.
On Dec. 15, the official said, the Iranian representatives met again with CIA officials and were told again there would be no more arms sales.
Rafsanjani also said that the U.S. arms sales to Iran beginning in September 1985 always were conditioned upon Iran’s help in winning the release of U.S. hostages believed held by pro-Iranian Shiite Moslems in Lebanon.
″The expectation, in return, was that we help them with the freeing of the hostages in Lebanon,″ Rafsanjani said. ″We tried very hard, and we told our own agents to try to find a way in Lebanon, and to see which way we could be of any help. And they finally found a way.″
The Rev. Benjamin Weir, one of the five original U.S. hostages kidnapped in Beirut, was released Sept. 14, 1985. The Rev. Lawrence Jenco, a second hostage, was freed last July 26, about three weeks after a reported additional arms shipment to Iran.
Rafsanjani said Iran, however, was deceived into allowing Israel to serve as an intermediary in some of the arms transactions.
″We all knew that we were absolutely not ready to have any sort of contact with Israel, deals or no deals,″ he said.