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Albright in Tehran
U.S. to reopen Tehran embassy in "early 2001"

April 1, 2000
The Iranian

This feature was posted in The Iranain for April Fools.

In another sign of improving relations between Tehran and Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Tehran today for talks with Iranian leaders. This is the first official visit by an American official since the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy. The following is the text of Albright's interview with Iranian television.

Host: Welcome to Iran, Mrs. Albright.

Albright: Thank you very much. I'm very happy to be here.

Host: Why have you come to Iran?

Albright: Well, our two countries have been in conflict for many many years. As you may know, President Khatami and President Clinton have expressed a desire to improve relations. And it's been my pleasure to come to Iran to personally extend a hand of friendship on behalf of the American people to the good people of this ancient and important country.

Host: What have you done so far during your visit?

Albright: I've had very constructive meetings with President Khatami and Foreign Minister Kharrazi. We discussed ways to move Iran-U.S. relations forward. One of the things we agreed was to resume diplomatic relations in early 2001.

Host: The United States will open an embassy in Tehran?

Albright: Yes.

Host: At the same location?

Albright: Actually no. We thought it would be better to have a fresh start. The new American embassy will be located on the outskirts of Tehran in Ahmadabad. The family of the late Prime Minister Mossadegh have kindly offered their estate and we think it's a great location. As I mentioned in my speech in Washington, the United States was wrong in helping to overthrow the Mossadegh government. And to show our deep regrets for our inappropriate actions in 1953, we planted a tree in memory of the popular prime minister.

Host: Zahmat kesheedeen...

Albright: Excuse me?

Host: What kind of tree?

Albright: It's a very nice, young pine tree.

Host: What else have you been doing during your stay here?

Albright: I also had a meeting with some Iranian women activists. As you know, women have been big supporters of President Khatami's reforms and I was pleased to have the opportunity to chat with a few of these courageous women who are risking their lives in the cause of freedom and justice.

Host: Who did you meet?

Albright: One of them is the president of the Islamic Association of Women Skiers and the other is the head of the Christiane Amanpour Freedom Foundation of Iran.

Host: Have you also had talks with Ayatollah Khamenei?

Albright: Who?

Host: The leader of our country.

Albright: Oh him. No, unfortunately not. I did ask for a meeting. His secretary left a message saying the Ayatollah will get back to me.

Host: In your speech in Washington you used Persian words to wish Iranians a happy new year. How long did it take to learn them?

Albright: Actually I speak Persian quite well. My parents were Iranian.

Host: I thought you had recently discovered that your parents were Czech Jews persecuted by the Nazis.

Albright: Well, I made a mistake. I realized that when I arrived here. I stepped out of the plane and suddenly my whole childhood flashed in front of my eyes. I remembered growing up in Shiraz near Imam Reza's shrine. Every weekend, usually on Saturdays, my parents would get up early in the morning and go hiking in the Alborz mountains. But what I loved about living in Shiraz was the beach. Our house was only a five minute walk from the Caspian coast.

Host: Are you sure you're Iranian?

Albright: Absolutely. Beh ghiyaafam nemeeyaad?

Host: Cheraa, baa chaador kheyli meeyaad. Is the name in your Iranian birth certificate Madeleine Albright?

Albright: Actually my real name is Maedeh Barati. But I had to adjust it a bit when I went to America.

Host: Maedeh Barati?!

Albright: Yes... I love that name.

Host: There was a Maedeh Barati in my junior high school in Shiraz. I used to have a huge crush on you!

Albright: Jafar? Jafar Karimi?! Is it really you?!! I cannot believe this... I remember you! I thought you were the ugliest boy in school. But you've turned out okay.

Host: Thanks. We have a lot to catch up with.

Albright: Yeah! What are you doing after the interview?

Host: Nothing. Would you like to go and have some tea or something?

Albright: Sure! It's a date!

Host: Excellent. Well, this has been a very interesting interview. I want to thank you for being here and I hope our two countries will soon be friends again.

Albright: Enshaalaa.

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