Abbas Abdi was a mastermind of the takeover. In Paris on Friday, he joined with Rosen in a public forum aimed at breaking down the walls of mistrust between Iran and the United States.
Iranian protesters interrupted Abdi three times, claiming he was involved in the executions of Iranian dissidents in the 1980s, a charge he denies.
"The U.S. government should sit facing me here, and then it would be clear who should apologize for their past actions," said Abdi. "I think taking a nation hostage for 25 years needs much more apology."
Rosen admits he had low expectations going in, and Abdi was more intent on dwelling on the past wrongs of U.S. foreign policy toward Iran than in apologizing for holding the hostages. However, both agree this was an important first step toward better relations down the road between their two countries.
"This was the first real baby step in cultural dialogue and perhaps some sort of reconciliation," said Rosen.
Rosen believes the Iranians have to accept that what they did to the hostages was morally wrong. Friday afternoon there was no apology, but there was an important gesture nonetheless: a handshake. After 20 years, that's a start.
Reported by Vicki Mabrey
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