Cool to Clark

It is difficult to see what the unofficial Ramsey Clark visit to Iran accomplished. There is merit, to be sure, in trying to keep open channels of communication with the Iranians. But this ought to be done quietly and unobtrusively -- without the glare of publicity that opens such a visit to manupulation by political elements within Iran.

As it turned out, President Bani-Sadr's political rival, Ayatollah Beheshti, derided the Clark mission, and Tehran Radio and some Muslim clergy even suggested Mr. Clark was a CIA plant. Having been refused entry into Iran on an earlier and official assigment, the former US attorney general might have gauged that his presence at an international conference in Tehran would not be wholeheartedly welcomed.

Although the move was a dubious one, the Carter administration is sensibly indicating it will not deal harshly with Mr. Clark and the other nine Americans who went to Iran in defiance of a US ban on travel there. Prosecuting the group would merely call even more attention to the case and invite further news media preoccupation with it. President Carter has for some time now prudently refrained from provocative comments about the hostage situation, suggestng he is awaiting the next stage of events in Iran.

That will be action on the hostages in the new Iranian parliament, the Majlis. The Iranian deputies will doubtless wait a few weeks before taking up the issue so as not to appear to be acting under any international pressures. But they must get around to it. It may not be comforting to Americans, especially the families of the hostages, to be told they must continue to be patient. Waiting it out, however, and maintaining a low profile seems the most reasonable course for the US at the moment.

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