229. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

I. Cottam/Ghotbzadeh Conversation—0730 EST–March 31

Cottam found Ghotbzadeh in a good mood. He said an announcement on the transfer of the hostages would be made tonight Tehran time. The actual transfer should take place tomorrow.2

Ghotbzadeh seemed offended by our dispute with him over the validity of the “Khomeini letter”.3

II. Lang/Villalon Conversation

Villalon told Lang that the hostages would be transferred not to the Foreign Ministry but to some other location where there were more suitable facilities for an extended stay. He said the “students” had proposed to the government that after the transfer they come to the [Page 605]new location with a group of Mullahs to celebrate Easter services with their former hostages. The government had agreed. This implied the students had accepted the idea of transfer.

Lang also reported they hoped ICRC could visit the hostages very soon. Villalon said that the students presently are willing to show only 49 of them. Metrinko who had been “very courageous and a real hero” would not be shown by the students. (The Swiss DCM here could not explain the apparent contradiction between transfer of all the hostages and refusal of the students to let the ICRC visit Metrinko. We should get a text of Lang’s cable later in the day.)

  1. Source: Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, Memoranda of Conversations. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted on March 31 by Precht. A handwritten note in the upper right hand corner reads: “Latest authoritative sitrep 9 A.M. Monday.”
  2. In his memoir, Carter quotes a portion of his March 30 diary entry that reads: “About 1:45, Cy reported that Ghotbsadeh had sent word to us that Bani-Sadr will make a statement tomorrow at noon Tehran time [4:30 A.M. in Washington], saying that the Revolutionary Council with Khomeini’s approval had decided to transfer the hostages away from the students to the government on Tuesday.” (Carter, Keeping Faith, p. 502; brackets are in the original)
  3. See Document 226.