US actress Annette Bening hopes Tehran visit kick-starts US-Iran dialogue

In a brief statement Sunday, March 1, US film actress Annette Bening, in Tehran with a Hollywood delegation, said: “I hope we can be a bridge to open a dialogue between out two countries, confirming debkafile‘s report that president Barack Obama had launched his bid for talks with Iran with a piece of “Hollywood diplomacy” 38 years after Richard Nixon opened the door to China with a ping-pong team.
Wearing a headscarf, the actress’ remark followed the demand by president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s art adviser that Hollywood apologize for 30 years of “insults and slanders” about Iranians in their films. Javad Shamaghdari cited the 2007 war epic “300” for its portrayal of their ancestors as “bloodthirsty” in the Greco-Persian wars and “The Wrestler” for the tearing of the Iranian flag in by the 2009 Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke.
“We will believe in Obama’s policy of change when we see change in Hollywood too,” said the Iranian official as the Hollywood delegation began a three-day workshop at Tehran’s museum of cinema.
debkafile reported Saturday, Feb. 28:
Thirty-eight years ago, a ping pong team sent by US president Richard Nixon to Beijing opened the door to Communist China. February 27, 2009, president Barack Obama launched his bid for dialogue with Iran with an Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences delegation from Hollywood. It is led by the actress Annette Bening, AMPAS president Sid Ganis and his predecessor Frank Pierson who flew in just after the Oscar award ceremony. Visiting in the framework of “US-Iranian culture exchanges,” they will hold talks in Tehran Saturday and Sunday.
debkafile‘s Washington sources note that this visit coincides with three relevant events:
1. Friday, Obama announce that the bulk of US forces will be out of Iraq by Aug. 2010 leaving only 50,000 in place. This meets Tehran’s objections to the presence of large-scale US forces in Iraq.
2. He calmed Iran’s fears on another score when he stated in a PBS interview: “One of the things that I think we have to communicate in Afghanistan is that we have no interest or aspiration to be there over the long term.”
3. The US president had his reply from Tehran in the former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rasanjani’s Friday sermon, when he extended his government’s first overt invitation for talks on the nuclear issue: “…we don’t make false promises,” said the Iranian strongman. “Therefore I declare that Iran’s nuclear plan is not to build weapons …and we are ready to prove it in negotiations.”
For debkafile‘s analysis of this important sermon click HERE
debkafile notes that the Hollywood delegation will be staying in Iran for a week, longer than any US emissary in the 30 years since the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini branded America “Big Satan.” In 1985, Ronald Reagan sent his national security adviser Robert McFarlane along with Oliver North and an Israeli, the late Amiram Nir, to Tehran on a mission later dubbed Irangate. They carried a Bible and a chocolate cake for the Ayatollah, which did not save them from being thrown out of the Iran after a couple of days without being received by Iranian officials.

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