The Hostage named Deputy Secretary of State while hostage taker is in Evin!

In my opinion this is one of the best news of the week. Ambassador John Limbert was a guest of PSU’s Iranian Studies advisory board and keynote speaker of the inauguration of Iranian studies at PSU few years ago. He speaks Persian fluently, is married to a Persian and his book on Shiraz at Hafez time is one of the best written about that period. I doubt if there would have been any better choice than John to take that torch at this time.

I asked John in my last interview with him on KBOO if he would be interested in becoming the first Ambassador to Iran, he hesitated to answer, but said I’ll do whatever I can to help if asked, and this must be the moment. (listen to that interview here:

It is also ironic that in the 30th anniversary of the take-over of the US Embassy in Tehran, a hostage taker is in Evin prison (Mohsen Mirdamadi) when a hostage becomes the Deputy Secretary of State in Iran affairs, may the hostage become an instrument to free the hostage taker!

To get a sense of Limbert’s Persian speaking ability watch this video from his time in the embassy under siege with Khamenei when he was deputy defense secretary and visited the hostages:

—– Forwarded Message —-
Sent: Sat, November 7, 2009 7:04:06 AM
Subject: Rozen: Limbert becomes State Iran DAS

John Limbert — retired Foreign Service Officer, former hostage in Iran and fluent Farsi speaker — took up his new position as Deputy Secretary of State for Iran this week. I believe that this is a new position, since as far as I know there has never been a DAS with exclusive responsibility for Iran.

This story is initially and exclusively reported by Laura Rozen in Politico:

If you would like to see John in action on his last day as a “civilian,” you can watch Christiane Amanpour’s show this Sunday on CNN. I am told that excerpts of the original show (aired on November 4) will appear at 2 pm EDT, but you should probably check listings. Her daily show appears only on CNN International, but it is reprised, with highlight clips, each Sunday on CNN (USA). You can also see the standup cross-talk after the show between John, Christiane and Gary Sick at their website:

Congratulations to John, and congratulations to the Department of State for their good judgment in bringing back one of the most talented and knowledgeable of all the Iran specialists in the United States.

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