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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.

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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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