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Former US Embassy detainee handed Iran post

Veteran US diplomat John Limbert

Press TV - The United States has appointed veteran diplomat John Limbert, who was held hostage at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, as its senior Iran official at the State Department.

According to several officials at the State Department and White House, Limbert will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, replacing Dennis Ross who has been moved to the US National Security Council to become a special assistant to the US president focusing on Iran.

Department sources also said that Limbert would play an active role in negotiations with Iran, working with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.

As the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Limbert will report to Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

One of the sources at the State Department said, "He will be the most senior official at State who deals exclusively with Iran," adding that in more than two decades at the Department, "we've never had a DAS for Iran."

Limbert also serves on the advisory board of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization 'dedicated to advancing the interests of the Iranian-American community.'

Negotiating with Iran: Wrestling the Ghosts of History
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The Council opposes sanctions on the Islamic Republic and calls for 'patience' in dealing with Iran's stance toward its nuclear program. The organization is also a bitter opponent of any military attack on Iran.

The NIAC has called for the discontinuation of congressional funding for anti-Islamic Republic news channels, including the Washington-based Voice of America Persian service and Radio Farda.

Former ambassador to Mauritania and former chargé d'affaires of the US Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, Limbert can speak fluent Persian and has worked as an English instructor at Shiraz University in central Iran from 1969 to 1972.

Limbert also worked at the American Embassy in Iran when it was taken over by students in November 4, 1979 and was held for fourteen months.

The former US diplomat is expected to provide strategic advice and perspective on the region, offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region.

The appointment comes as US President Barack Obama has chosen to oversee US policy on Iran and has pledged to untangle 30 years of enmity toward Tehran by engaging the country diplomatically over its long-disputed nuclear case.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials say the US approach toward Iran has been in contradiction with the slogan of bringing 'change' to its policy.

"They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice," Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said earlier. "We haven't seen any change."

Related Article: Former Hostage Urges Negotiations with Iran

... Payvand News - 11/10/09 ... --

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