Expect virtual embassy crisis with virtual hostages
President Barack Obama has launched a virtual embassy for Iran in what it said was a bid to promote dialogue with the Iranian people in the absence of formal diplomatic ties. The web-based embassy went online in English and Farsi and aims to give visitors "another perspective" for Iranians who "remain hungry for information about the United States".
The website is not a formal diplomatic mission, nor does it represent or describe a real US embassy accredited to the Iranian government, the US state department said. However in the absence of direct contact, it can work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people.
The US has not had a good history of embassies in Iran. In the 1979 Iranian revolution, the embassy was raided and 52 Americans were held hostage in Iran for 444 days. They were returned under a dubious deal Ronald Regan hatched out.
Diplomatic relations were severed between the two countries. Since then things have only got worse. "While the world knows that the United States lost an embassy in Iran, in fact, we lost more: we were deprived of a relationship with the Iranian people, access to Iranian society, and thousands of daily interactions between American and Iranian citizens,'' the state department said.