State Department relents, recommends visa for former Iranian official Bani-Sadr

May 03, 1991|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The State Department recommended yesterday that a visa be granted to former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr despite his links with the taking of U.S. hostages 11 years ago.

The decision last night by Deputy Secretary Lawrence S. Eagleburger came hours after Mr. Bani-Sadr's planned tour of the United States to promote a book was suspended indefinitely because the visa did not come through on time.

The book alleges secret dealings between Iranian officials and representatives of Ronald Reagan's campaign, including George Bush, before the 1980 presidential election.

"People are just going to have to get to him in Paris," said Franklin D. Margiotta, president of Brassey's Inc., publisher of Mr. Bani-Sadr's memoir, "My Turn to Speak."

It was not clear whether the tour would be rescheduled.

It also wasn't clear, even after Mr. Eagleburger's decision last night, how soon a visa might be granted. Justice Department approval is also required before the one-time official of Iran's revolutionary government can be admitted into the country.

Mr. Bani-Sadr, who lives in France, had been scheduled to arrive Wednesday in the United States to begin interviews aimed at boosting sales of his 3-year-old book, now published in an American edition.

The trip was canceled, however, when the State Department declared the author ineligible for a non-immigrant visa because he served as a member of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's government at the time it was holding Americans hostage.

He was considered to fall under the prohibited category of aliens who advocate the use of violence against officials of the government, according to the State Department.

Following complaints from Mr. Bani-Sadr and his publisher, Mr. Eagleburger recommended to the Justice Department that a waiver of the prohibition be granted.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater dismissed suggestions yesterday that Mr. Bani-Sadr was being kept out of the country because of the embarrassing nature of his charges involving President Bush.

Mr. Bani-Sadr contends that at the time Mr. Bush was a candidate for vice president on the ticket headed by Mr. Reagan, he took part in an attempt to delay the release of the U.S. hostages until after the November 1980 election in order to boost chances that President Jimmy Carter would be defeated.

Similar allegations have been denied by Mr. Bush and his spokesmen.

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