279. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

Recommendation to the President

—That we begin to work2 on the development of a diplomatic strategy, looking toward a late May or early June meeting of the Iranian parliament, when there may be an opportunity for a settlement of the crisis.

—That we continue with our strategy of multilateral economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures on Iran, keeping ambiguous in the minds of the Iranians what additional steps we might take, while making clear that we plan no retaliation or intervention in Iran if all the hostages are released safely and under honorable conditions.3

—That we reopen contact with Bani-Sadr and Ghotzbadeh to explore how Bani-Sadr might present a program to the new parliament that would subsume the release of the hostages.4

—That in our initial explorations, we elicit Bani-Sadr’s ideas rather than presenting our own, while making clear that we will not relax our pressures or make concessions until the hostages are released.5

—That we ask selected allies to seek contacts with leading clerics to persuade them toward a consensus on release of the hostages.6 The allies could point out to the clerics that: Soviet and leftist ambitions for Iran are furthered by the continued holding of the hostages; that the Europeans and Japanese want to have good relations with Iran but can’t so long as the hostages are held; and that the US now is dangerous and unpredictable but would not take retaliatory measures if all the hostages are released safely and under honorable circumstances.

—That we explore with selected non-aligned such as Algeria and Yugoslavia, and possibly the French, the prospects for their undertaking an exploratory role with the Iranians. We would elicit their ideas [Page 766] for the framework of a settlement without at this stage committing ourselves to any specific steps.

—That we pursue a public affairs strategy which keeps all options open, but emphasizes the requirement for patient determination while the lessons of sanctions sink in with the Iranian leadership.7

—That we examine closely what emerges from the Islamic Conference and from Bani-Sadr’s plans for a Tehran conference of non-aligned and others, to see if there are opportunities for constructive exploitation. At the same time we will continue to discourage participants in the Islamic Conference or the Tehran meeting from taking unbalanced positions that ignore the basic issue of the seizure and holding of the hostages.8

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 10. Secret; Sensitive. In the upper right corner of the paper, Carter wrote: “We should reassess all possible avenues & maintain a full court press—with minimum press comment.”
  2. Carter underlined the words “begin to work” and wrote in the right margin: “expedite.”
  3. In the right margin, Carter wrote: “Keep all options open.”
  4. In the right margin, Carter wrote: “ok, but remember that B-S is a weak reed at best.”
  5. In the right margin, Carter wrote: “We should try to reach Madani thru acceptable intermediary.”
  6. In the right margin, Carter wrote: “FRG can help with Beheshti.”
  7. In the right margin, Carter wrote: “downplay press.”
  8. Carter wrote “ok” in the right margin beside this paragraph.