Iran Leader Slams U.S. Response : Hostages: Bush Administration called a ‘frustrated child’ for its reaction to release of 2 Americans.
Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani today branded the Bush Administration a “stubborn, frustrated child” for refusing to make a goodwill gesture in response to the release of two American hostages in Lebanon.
He also declared in a speech broadcast by Tehran radio, monitored in Nicosia: “Iran does not want relations with the United States, and we welcomed severing ties. . . . We are not prepared to talk to America.”
Rafsanjani’s comments, made in an address to a group of teachers in Tehran, appeared to rule out the possibility of a dialogue with the United States after 11 years of hostility.
But they also indicated that Rafsanjani, leader of Iran’s so-called pragmatists, is under mounting pressure from anti-Western radicals angered at Iran’s role in the release of the two Americans held by pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim militants in Lebanon.
Rafsanjani admitted that the Lebanese groups who freed U.S. hostages Robert Polhill and Frank Reed had done so “at our suggestion. They could have . . . rejected our advice. But they accepted our advice.”
Rafsanjani’s comments echoed remarks on Wednesday by Iran’s spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Tehran opposes talks with the United States.
Khamenei said “the Islamic Republic government would not possibly do so without my consent.”
“Someone should have taken the first step to solve the hostage issue,” Rafsanjani declared. “The expectation was that a government like the United States, which is a big government, would step in and solve the issue. But here the Lebanese warriors seized the initiative and released the hostages without conditions.”
He added: “Instead of giving an appropriate reward for this initiative, the U.S. reacted by saying it will not negotiate with kidnapers, as if Israel and the (Lebanese) Falangists are not kidnapers.”
That was a reference to hundreds of Arabs held by Israel, including Hezbollah leader Sheik Abdul-Karim Obeid, seized in Lebanon last July 28, and four Iranians seized by Lebanese Christian militiamen in July, 1982.
Referring to Polhill’s release, Rafsanjani said that “an angry, revolutionary, enraged group, after it released one hostage without preconditions and was confronted with America’s irresponsible reaction, should reasonably have taken revenge.
“But they still showed decency and showed their extreme goodwill” by freeing Reed as well, he said.
Referring to Bush’s public thanks to Iran and Syria for their role in last month’s releases, Rafsanjani said that “on the one hand the United States thanked Iran and Syria for their efforts in releasing the hostages.
“On the other hand, it started a vile propaganda move, stating, ‘We will not normalize ties until Iran releases all hostages.’ ”