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

(Text of letter intended for Khomeini and attributed to President Carter)2


I have read your message to the Iranian people dated March 21.3 I consider it to be a key document for the future of your country.

In that message you also defined your international policy choice. This concerns us. I agree that the peace of the world requires new relations between States, especially respect for the sovereignty of nations and the right of peoples to self-determination.

I wish to say to you that these two principles often expressed by you and by President Bani-Sadr are my principles, and we have proved to the world our decision to implement them, in Nicaragua, in Pakistan, and in the face of a probable threat to the sovereignty of Yugoslavia. I wish to say to you that my Government inherited a very delicate international situation—the product of another policy, of other circumstances which have led us all to commit errors in the past.

The great advantage of American democracy is that it has always been able to recognize or condemn its mistakes. We agreed to the Congressional Commission of Inquiry to clarify the truth of serious acts of American intervention such as in the case of Chile, and that Commission of Inquiry made very important decisions condemning that intervention and taking very important measures against those responsible for those acts. President Bani-Sadr has been informed by us that we are prepared to establish this Commission of Inquiry in the United States within the framework of a program which would allow the settlement of this crisis between our two nations.

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We have also informed President Bani-Sadr of our great willingness to make a major effort and give the Iranian people the necessary satisfactions in order to solve peacefully the disputes between our two Governments. I can understand very well that the takeover of the Embassy of our country there could be an understandable reaction of the youth of Iran. But the situation has changed, and I have serious reasons to harbor doubts as to the true motivations of those who took over our Embassy.

Today this takeover is creating major problems for your Government and for mine. It has now become an element of discord which does not allow us to end the present crisis or to establish these new relations which you talk about and which we accept on the basis of equality of mutual respect. We are ready to recognize the new realities created by the Iranian revolution. This continues to be our objective and our hope, because in the final analysis I believe that we share a single objective—world peace and justice for all peoples. From the moment that the overthrown former Shah left the United States where he had been admitted for humanitarian reasons and for medical purposes, my Government decided not to intervene in these problems. The ex-Shah’s departure from Panama was his own personal decision, and we were in no way involved with the negotiations he himself undertook with Sadat in order to find refuge in Egypt. We would like there to be no misunderstanding on that point: We opposed his return to the United States, we opposed his being treated in American hospitals and by American physicians. We conveyed to President Bani-Sadr all the information we had on the physical condition of the former Shah. I consider it to be essential to maintain the principle that these two problems should be kept totally separate. The crisis between our two countries must be resolved by the will and the capacity of our Governments to act in accordance with reality and in the interest of a serious future for our peoples. I wish to say to you that as soon as the immediate problem is resolved by the transfer of the hostages to the custody of the Iranian Government, we are ready to adopt a reasonable and friendly attitude in regard to our numerous bilateral problems. It has been recommended to us that there be established a Joint Commission as the instrument for dealing with those bilateral issues. We would be receptive to this approach and could see the Commission as the means for developing our future relationship. I would ask you to make a great effort to help me to resolve the crisis between our two countries in a manner which is fair and honorable for all. I am very grateful to you. Our peoples will be very grateful to you. I would note for you that in my humble opinion time and the true enemies of our respective political processes are working against us.

With my greatest respect,

signed: Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, Office of the Chief of Staff, Jordan’s Confidential Files, Box 34, Iran 3/80. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Jordan recognized that the letter took some material from the March 13 letter he had sent to Bani-Sadr. See Document 209. (Jordan, Crisis, p. 242) In his memoir, Sick directly attributed Villalon as the author of this March 27 counterfeit letter, which was written in a misguided attempt to lessen the pressure coming from the United States, and noted that Villalon delivered the letter to Ghotbzadeh. “Although Ghotbzadeh apparently was aware of the dubious origins of the letter, he delivered it directly to Khomeini—without even briefing Bani-Sadr.” Khomeini immediately published the letter. (Sick, All Fall Down, pp. 320–321) According to Jordan, Villalon called from Tehran on March 29, begging that the United States not deny the letter since Khomeini had released it; Saunders told him to “forget it,” that the letter was “bogus.” (Jordan, Crisis, pp. 240–242).
  3. Presumably a reference to the March 24 message; see Document 220.