Is US dealing with Iran?

The United States is facing a barrage of questions about its possible dealings with Iran. The speaker of the Iranian parliament said yesterday that the government of Ayatollah Khomeini last month arrested and later expelled a high-level US emissary sent to secure Iran's help in gaining the release of American hostages held in Lebanon.

In a speech Hashemi Rafsanjani said former US national-security adviser Robert C. McFarlane and an unknown number of traveling companions were confined in Iran for five days after arriving on a flight carrying spare parts for US-made weapons being used by Iran in its six year war against Iraq.

At time of writing, Reagan administration officials refused to comment on the report, leading to speculation that the US may have abandoned its six-year arms embargo on Iran, imposed after US diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage in 1979.

The McFarlane trip was first reported in a pro-Syrian Beirut magazine, Ash-Shiraa. The article said delivery of spare parts was intended as part of a deal to get Iran to use its influence to gain the release of Americans held hostage by the pro-Iranian terrorist organization Islamic Jihad.

McFarlane's office declined to issue any statement regarding his reported mission to Iran.

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