Jesse Jackson Plans To Visit Iran, 22 April 2009


Prominent American civil rights and political activist Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr plans to lead a delegation to Iran to appeal for and secure the release of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi who had been sentenced to eight years jail for allegedly spying for the United States.

Jackson, who is the president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, an organisation fighting for social change, said visas had been applied for and he hoped that they would get the necessary approval to undertake the mission to Tehran.

"I hope our appeal to release her (Saberi) will be heard and we will be allowed into Tehran to make the appeal and gain her freedom," he told reporters after delivering a talk on "Building A Culture of Peace and Development in a Globalised World", here today.

The event was organised by the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) under the series, "Bridges-Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace".

The United States had called the charges against Saberi "baseless" and demanded her immediate release.

The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran on April 7, 1980 following the occupation of the US embassy in Tehran where 52 diplomats were taken hostage in November 1979, and since then almost nothing positive had happened in their relationship.

Jackson said Iran was a great nation with talented people and it had much to offer to the world through its people, culture and history, and that it could be a contributor to the development of peace in the world.

On the conflict in the Middle East, which has very much to do with the protracted Israel-Palestine conflict, Jackson said what was needed was a honest broker "to stand in between both" and not a betrayer.

He said there was also a need to create a zone of mutual trust and for peace to be given a fair chance to succeed.

"Until then, we will not get a mutual outcome," he said.

In order to achieve permanent peace in the region, Jackson said, the way was for a two-state solution, for Israel and Palestine to co-exist peacefully and not annihilate each other.