Action Memorandum 022

Oct. 25, 1996

U.S. "Dialogue" must emphasize human rights and democracy


In comments made before business executives in Dubai on Thursday,Oct. 24, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau said that theUnited States was "open to dialogue with the government of Iran," andhinted that U.S. policy could change significantly after the Nov. 5presidential elections. "Because in Washington these days, there aretwo phases: the short term, and the second term," wire reports quotedhim as saying.

In discussions with the Foundation's Executive Director recently,many leaders in the Persian Gulf expressed concern with what theyperceive as the inconsistency of U.S. policy toward the two mostpowerful states in the region, Iran and Iraq. They feel that theUnited States has no long-term strategy for the region, and isreacting on an ad hoc basis to crises as they occur. The smallerstates in the region are afraid they will be left exposed on thefront lines against Iran and Iraq, after the U.S. attempt to containthese regimes fails and the U.S. shifts toward a policy ofengagement.

Ambassador Pelletreau's statement muddles the soup even further.Although the State Department subsequently claimed the remarks weretaken out of context and did not signal any change of U.S. policy,they only confirm the worst suspicions of U.S. allies in the Gulf,and send confused signals to the Islamic Republic and to the peopleof Iran.

It is difficult to understand what benefits the United States seesat this time from dialogue with a regime in Tehran which consistentlyattacks the United States and U.S. allies in the region, consistentlyuses violence to oppose the Middle East peace process, andconsistently represses women, minorities, and political opponents athome. The United States has spent so much effort to isolate theregime that an offer of dialogue at this point will be seen by Tehranas a sign of weakness .

It is our view that the United States would do better to adapt itspublic diplomacy to the fundamental American values of freedom anddemocracy. Instead of reiterating its offer of dialogue to theregime, the United States should publicly support the legitimateaspirations of the Iranian people to choose their own form ofgovernment through democratic means.

In the event Ambassador Pelletreau's remarks reflect an imminentshift in U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic, the Foundation forDemocracy in Iran urges the Department of State to maintain itsinsistence that Tehran:

• abandon its support for international terrorism, includingthe assassination of Iranian dissidents residing overseas;

• respect internationally-recognized standards of humanrights;

• abandon its efforts to subvert the regimes of itsneighbors; and

• abandon all actions aimed at undermining the Middle Eastpeace process.

Furthermore, the Foundation believes the United States should holdTehran to its commitment to the International Covenant for Civil andPolitical Rights, a binding international agreement signed by theIslamic Republic which guarantees the rights of minorities and ofpolitical representation for all citizens.

The United States should not relax its trade restrictions orconsider any improvement in ties with the Tehran regime untilconcrete and verifiable progress has been made on these issues.Anything less would constitute a reward to terrorism.

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private,non-profit corporation registered in the State of Maryland.Contact: Kenneth R. Timmerman, Executive Director ( materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at