225. Message From the Swiss Chargé d’Affaires in Iran (Kaiser) to the Department of State1

(1) This morning, following a prolonged siege which enabled me once again to observe how strongly the President is assailed from all sides with various concerns, I personally transmitted the State Department message to Bani-Sadr2 as you had once again urged me to do.

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Bani-Sadr responded very calmly and without the slightest sign of any emotion whatsoever, speaking partly in very general terms and reiterating statements that are already known. He clearly indicated his willingness to effect the transfer of the hostages provided the general situation, which had again become strained as a result of the recent events, made it possible for him to do so.

Regarding the U. S. communication, Bani-Sadr made the following comments:

(a) He had promised the transfer of the hostages on the condition that the UN Commission remained in Tehran, which, as is generally known, did not happen. The current situation had been complicated further by the former Shah’s trip to Egypt.

(b) He is completely opposed to all attempts by the U.S. to dominate the world. This applies especially to the attempted domination of Iran. A policy aimed at independence requires the elimination of all ties establishing dependence. It is clear that the hostages are an impediment to such a policy. Bani-Sadr made clear that it was unnecessary for the U.S. to feel that it had to encourage or threaten him in any way in relation to his pursuit of his policy.

(c) Regarding the U.S. position on this matter, he noted that to date he had not yet been able to perceive one single sign of good will on the part of that side, be it on the issue of the Shah himself, or with regard to Iran’s assets or to plots directed against Iran.

(d) The Shah’s departure from Panama has created a new situation, and it is not clear to him what the presence of the ex-monarch in Egypt signifies.

He is determined to effect the transfer of the hostages to the control of the government. However, for that he needs time to review the entire problem in the light of the newly created situation. The procedure selected should be such as to avoid any damage whatsoever to his country. The general conditions must be such as to make such an action possible.

In the general conversation that ensued, I told Bani-Sadr of the mounting pressure put on the Administration by the U.S. public and briefly touched on the results of the primaries in Massachusetts and the trend in New York. The President replied that he certainly was not interested in causing problems for Carter since his opponent, Kennedy, was an even greater enemy of the Iranian revolution.

Asked about the prospects for Easter services, Bani-Sadr replied that GH was seeing the Imam today—it could be presumed that he would use the occasion to discuss the subject.

  1. Source: Department of State, Official Files of [P] David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Lot 82D85, Iran Update Mar 1980. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See Document 220. In the March 27 Iran Update, Saunders informed Vance and Christopher that Villalon strongly urged that the letter not be delivered. (Briefing memorandum, March 26; Department of State, Official Files of [P] David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Lot 82D85, Iran Update Mar 1980)