The visit of the US Utah Senator, Jim Dabakis to Iran became target of blazing criticism from some Iranian Conservatives and there are paradoxical speculations about the unawareness of Iranian officials of it, which is contrastive to the statement if Iran’s Minister of Intelligence at the parliament that reads the intelligence services were fully informed about Mr. Dabakis’s coming and going. In an interview with AVA Diplomatic, Sen. Dabakis explained his goals out of the visit and offered his analysis of the impact the upcoming US presidential election would have on the implementation of the JCPOA.
AVA Diplomatic’s Exclusive Interview with
US Democrat Senator of Utah, Jim Dabakis
Interview by Mohammadreza Nazari
How different is the modern Iran culturally and socially from what US politicians have formed in their minds?
I visited Iran five or six years ago on a tour. Had a delightful time. I was intrigued by the beauty of the land, the majesty of the history and the warmth of the people in the 5 or 6 cities we visited.
Was there any other political character in the delegation or was it just you?
I have been looking for an opportunity to come back. The time schedule opened in September. I applied for a tourist visa. I was granted one. There were only two of us in the party. It was not a diplomatic mission. It was private. I went as an individual. I do not like to be treated differently then ordinary citizens when I travel and saw no need to proclaim my part-time, barley paid job as a Utah State Senator.
Has the Swiss Embassy helped you on this trip as the Interest Section for the US?
I was a private tourist, on a tourist visa–official invitations were not sought nor necessary. I have no information on the Swiss Embassy.
What cities did you visit during your trip?
I visited two cities this time Tehran and Isfahan. Was preparing to bring a group of tourists from Utah for a trip in May. Not a political trip–a trip of common people and some educational and business leaders.
You announced your purpose of coming to Iran as “service to the people of Utah and the people of the United States.” How can your visit fulfill that objective? Was your trip political at all?
I take no stand on the large international issues. That is for much more important people in Washington and Tehran to work on. My simple goal is to try and help Americans to understand that their impression of Iran might be incorrect, and to feel the deep warmth and hospitality of Iranians, and to taste the best cuisine in the world.
Do you encourage other US Senators to come to Iran, too? How were their feedbacks about your trip?
I would encourage everyone to visit Iran. It is incredible and does not fit the stereotype painted by those who have an agenda against Iran. Other Utah State Senators were very interested in my trip and in hearing my opinions.
In your opinion, in what way can the development of the economic ties between Iran and the US affect the progress in their political relations with each other?
I am also hopeful that trust and business can be improved between our two countries–to the benefit of the entire world.
Had you talked to the Iranian and US officials about your visit to Iran?
As to another visit, I will make sure that I inform everyone of my visit next time and make sure that I am indeed invited and welcome by all–or I will not come. It was never my intention to insult of hide, quite the opposite.
Do you not think your visit to Iran would place the Rouhani administration under pressure?
I would also like to invite to Utah, some of the people that were upset by my visit. I am sure that the hospitality of Utahns would be on display–and perhaps we could talk about some common goals.
Many Iranian politicians are afraid that the next US government one-sidedly calls off the JCPOA. What is your take on this?
It seems to me that the US government cannot and will not break the terms of an agreement that our government signed. The USA has a long record in honoring international agreements and treaties through different administrations–with different political perspectives come to power.
There is a lot of political blustery in the month’s right before an election. We have a saying about elections–believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see.
Despite the strong feelings for those (on both sides) who want to see estrangement and mistrust continue, I believe step-by-step the world and our people are demanding that we find a way to build trust and understanding. As John Kennedy said, “You don’t make peace with your friends”. Let us begin on the long road of healing. A journey of 1000 miles begins with a first step.