141. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

1142. For Secretary From Ambassador. Subject: French Ambassador’s Conversation With Ghotbzadeh.

1. (Secret–Entire text)

2. Foreign Minister Francois-Poncet called me to say he wanted to show me a report of a conversation his Ambassador in Tehran had had with Ghotbzadeh. The report is classified for the President and FonMin only, but Francois-Poncet has high regard for the Ambassador and wanted you to know its content.

3. According to the report, Ghotbzadeh opened the conversation by referring to status of Bruce Laingen, stating that the less said on this subject the better. For this reason Ghotbzadeh had submitted the students’ demand2 to the Ayatollah and in his judgement “things would stay as they are.” Very confidentially, Ghotbzadeh told the Ambassador Ayatollah Khomeini had written to the students in this sense.

4. Ghotbzadeh emphasized his desire to resolve the crisis which was poisoning the atmosphere. In this context he discussed the Waldheim mission which he considered to have been highly successful. In his view the mission was to enable the SecGen to understand Iranian opinion and the crimes of the Shah’s regime. Ghotbzadeh praised the “courage” of Waldheim. Because the mission was for information purposes only it had been better for Waldheim not to meet Khomeini. However, Waldheim had met with the full Council of the Revolution. They had discussed the possibilities of a “package deal” involving the presentation of the Iranian case before the UN General Assembly, the establishment of a UN commission of inquiry, and the liberation of the hostages. These were all linked and there was to be no precondition. In Ghotbzadeh’s view, the UN General Assembly offered the only possible line of retreat from the present situation for each side.

5. The French Ambassador considers that Ghotbzadeh does want to get out of the present impasse. Ghotbzadeh spoke calmly and confidently but appeared irritated by the diplomatic corps’ various démarches and criticized the “indiscretions” of the press, particularly [Page 372] American. For this reason he said he was keeping his distance from reporters.

6. The French Ambassador speculates that Ghotbzadeh is a candidate for the Presidency and that to strengthen his position may play on his ability to resolve the crisis. In the Ambassador’s view, Ghotbzadeh may have reached an agreement with Khomeini, the Ayatollah retreating from the scene over the next two weeks and leaving Ghotbzadeh free to seek a solution to the crisis.

  1. Source: Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, Iran NODIS Cables Jan 1980. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. The students holding the hostages had demanded that Laingen be moved from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.