New York Times: An American scholar who was instrumental in getting the head of the Library of Congress invited to Iran for an official conference in November has suspended his own five-year effort to build bridges between the two countries after he and a colleague were turned away at the Tehran airport in separate incidents last month. New York Times
By DOUGLAS JEHL
WASHINGTON – An American scholar who was instrumental in getting the head of the Library of Congress invited to Iran for an official conference in November has suspended his own five-year effort to build bridges between the two countries after he and a colleague were turned away at the Tehran airport in separate incidents last month.
The scholar, Jeremy J. Stone, had been traveling at the invitation of the Iranian government to attend a ceremony of Iran’s National Library and to hear an address by the Iranian president, Mohammed Khatami. In a written statement on Tuesday, Mr. Stone said he had been carrying a valid visa issued by Iran’s interest section in Washington.
He said Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zavad Jarif, had since expressed “deepest regrets” for the incident, saying that it was owing to a misunderstanding and that “steps were being taken to avoid its repetition.”
Mr. Stone was turned away 24 hours after his colleague, Leonard Kniffel of the American Library Association, the only other American invited to the ceremony in Iran, was also denied entry to the country.
Mr. Stone is a former head of the Federation of American Scientists and now leads Catalytic Diplomacy, a private group. In 1999, he organized a nongovernmental exchange agreement between the National Academy of Sciences and the Iranian Academy of Sciences. He worked last year to promote the visit by James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, to Iran, the first by a prominent American official in 18 years.
In his statement, Mr. Stone suggested that his treatment might have been part of a backlash in the Iranian government against the visit by Mr. Billington, who made his trip at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart, Kazem Bojnourdi.
Mr. Stone said his group was suspending its campaign to forge closer ties between the United States and Iran until Iran “provides more reliable assurances that such bridges are possible.”
A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, Mortezar Ramandi, said by telephone on Tuesday that Mr. Stone and Mr. Kniffel had been turned away because of a “technical problem.”