Friday, 03 April, 2020

Iranian People Give a Warm Welcome to Former U.S. Congressman

A former U.S. Congressman says he has been warmly welcomed by Iranian people while he was in the Middle Eastern country last month to participate at an international conference.

Jim Slattery, a former six-term Kansas Democrat, traveled to Iran December 9-10, 2014 to address the International “World Against Violence and Extremism” (WAVE) conference, an initiative by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to Al-Monitor.

While in Iran, he met with several senior Iranian officials, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister and nuclear negotiator Majid Ravanchi, and Rouhani’s chief of staff Mohammad Nahavandian, Slattery told Al-Monitor.

“When I was in Tehran, walking on the streets, I went to the bazaar, in the lobbies of hotels, I sensed no animosity towards me as a westerner and American,” he recalled.

“Several people asked me if I was an American.” Slattery said he felt much safer and more welcome by people in Tehran than when he served as an election monitor in Baghdad over a year ago.

“I was going through the passport control office in Tehran, and these young men checking passports… were anxious to meet American people,” he said. “You know, it’s the same all over the world.”

Slattery also claimed he was told by the Iranians that his address was the first time since 1979 a current or former U.S. elected official had been invited to speak inside the country.

“We’re at a very difficult and interesting time right now and I happen to believe the current government in Iran is very interested in an improved relationship with the United States,” Slattery said.

On nuclear deal, Slattery says he is optimistic about prospects for reaching a nuclear deal that would enhance the interests of the United States and its allies.

“I believe we have a historic opportunity,” Slattery, who represented Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995, added.

“I believe the leadership in Iran and the U.S….all want to pursue a negotiated resolution of this problem around the nuclear issue, and I believe a deal is reachable.”

Slattery, currently a partner at Wiley Rein law firm in  Washington DC, said he has been involved in interfaith, “track 2” dialogue for the past decade through a group called the Abrahamic Dialogue, based out of Catholic University.  He says that he has become a strong advocate of what fellow former Kansan Dwight Eisenhower called “people to people” diplomacy.

The December trip to Iran, to speak at the International Conference on World against Violence and Extremism (WAVE), was his first to the country.

Slattery’s remarks to the conference, which he provided, stresses the need for dialogue among the Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The United States was aware of Slattery’s trip to Iran, he said, and didn’t try to stop him.

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