The exiled son of the late Shah of Iran says the United States should continue to try to engage the nation of his birth, but do so in such a way that does not prop up the government in Tehran.
Friday, Iran rejected a U.S. proposal to dispatch a high-level humanitarian delegation to the earthquake-ravaged nation, citing logistical difficulties. The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations since 1980.
Reza Pahlavi, whose father ruled Iran prior to the country's 1979 Islamic revolution, says the cause of democratic reform in Iran could be furthered, if relations were to thaw between Washington and Tehran. Mr. Pahlavi spoke on the U.S. television program "Fox News Sunday."
"Engagement and dialogue is much better than containment and isolation," said Mr. Pahlavi. "What is important for the people of Iran, however, is, after so many years of suffering, they would love to see the international community, for a change, shift their focus on them [their aspirations], rather than trying to cut a deal with the current regime."
The Iranian government has not ruled out the possibility of a visit by U.S. officials in the future. Nevertheless, Iran's state-controlled news media have expressed suspicions about U.S. motives, accusing the Bush administration of seizing upon the earthquake tragedy in the southeastern city of Bam as an opportunity to create a rift between the Iranian government and its citizens.
Reza Pahlavi said the government has already lost its legitimacy with the Iranian people. "This rift was created a long time ago by the regime's own doing," he said. "It has nothing to do with the U.S. government or any other foreign government."
Mr. Pahlavi said President Bush has always taken care to distinguish between his criticism of Iran's leaders and his feelings toward the country as a whole. He said that has not gone unnoticed by the people of Iran.