• 4 November 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Events in Iran

Video: Hostage John Limbert speaking with Khamenei

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This fascinating video came to our attention yesterday.  It shows Amb. John Limbert, at the time a hostage in the US Embassy, speaking with Ali Khamenei, then Iran’s president Deputy Defense Minister (and currently the Supreme Leader).  Just this morning, Amb. Limbert — a NIAC advisory board member — joined us at our Capitol Hill conference for a panel assessing Obama’s diplomacy with Iran, but this is an amazing look at his experience thirty years ago today.

For non-Farsi speakers, the exchange between Limbert and Khamenei here is incredibly interesting.  To paraphrase: Limbert politely welcomed Khamenei, who was being treated as a guest since he was visiting the hostages at their “residence” where they were being held.  Limbert remarked about the Iranian cultural quirk known as “taarof,” which characterizes the uniquely Iranian version of hospitality, saying: Iranians are too hospitable to guests in their country, when we insist that we must be going, you all tell us “no, no, you must stay.”

When Limbert pressed the matter further, Khamenei revealed that the real issue was the United States’ willingness to allow the deposed Shah to enter into the country for medical treatment.  When the US returns the Shah to Iran so the revolutionary government can prosecute him, Khamenei explained, then the hostages will be allowed to leave.

For those old enough to remember the hostage crisis as it happened, this will surely evoke strong memories from that period thirty years ago.  But for the rest of us, this is an amazingly personal glimpse into the ordeal that held the world’s attention for so long, and for which all of us are still dealing with the repercussions.

Posted By Patrick Disney

    3 Responses to “Video: Hostage John Limbert speaking with Khamenei”

  1. kevin says:

    For a U.S. honkie, that’s not some bad Farsi.

  2. interested says:

    I hope a translation with be forthcoming, especially in view of recent events in Iran, celebrating the I would like also to hear Khameinis reaction – translated too. I’m sure many iranians would also like to hear th anniversary of this event, and with brutal repression of opposition demonstrations still by this same cleric. This man like all the corrupt mullahs and politiciens in the country, is doomed but he’s managed to keep his country in their ignorance with the SAME words today, that the enemies are americans…. (yet using US and western technology… internet, satelites….no gratitude… )This regime is doomed, and will fall within a few months.. nobody likes him except a few revolutionary guards who beat up people and rape women and men… they can’t admit it.. he’s an old man, but has should be tried before international court

  3. Nader Vadiee says:

    It is a small world !

    Dr. John Limbert, US State Department assistant secretary, was my English professor in Shiraz University in 1970. He was one of my best professors and I always enjoyed his lectures and he has inspired me a lot. As far as I recollect he is married to an Iranian woman from Shiraz (my hometown). He is very proficient in Farsi and has studied and researched Persian literature and culture. Later, after the 1979 revolution and during the US-Iran hostage crisis he was one of the American hostages .

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