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Iran and the United States: Time for a Reset?

October 17, 2013

Michael Metrinko, Persian Expert and Former U.S. Hostage in Tehran

U.S diplomat and former Iranian hostage Michael Metrinko is shown on his release and return to the United StatesIran's hostile relationship with America is the product of 50 years of subversion, terrorism, sanctions and name-calling. Yet that relationship lies at the center of many issues in the Middle East that are vital to U.S. interests.

Former U.S. diplomat Mike Metrinko will discuss Iran and the United States in a regional context, showing how the relationship is affected by actors, events and conflicting interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Israel. Does the election of Iran’s new President, Hassan Rowhani, mean a change in the political scene? He will draw on his decades of on-the-ground experience in the region to explore what the US and Iran can do to normalize their relationship.

Michael Metrinko is a retired Foreign Service Officer with several decades of experience in the Middle East and South Asia. After 5 years in Turkey and Iran as a Peace Corps volunteer, his State Department assignments took him back to Turkey and Iran again for an additional six years, as well as to Poland, Syria, Yemen and Israel. As a diplomat in Iran, Metrinko served as the Consul in Tabriz during the two-year period leading up to the Iranian Revolution, and then as a Political Officer in Tehran until the American Embassy was seized in 1979. He spent 444 days as a hostage in Iran.

 Ayatollah KhomeiniHis assignments in Washington included Deputy Director of the Iran-Iraq Desk during the final two years of the Iran-Iraq War, and as Office Director in the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, with specific responsibilities for refugee assistance in Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East. After 9/11, he returned from retirement to active government service, taking another assignment to Yemen, serving twice in Iraq, and for more than 4 years in various positions in Afghanistan, including as Political Counselor at the newly-opened American Embassy in Kabul, Political Advisor for two years at American and NATO military bases, and as the senior American liaison with the new Afghan National Assembly. More recently he was on the staff of the U.S. Army War College, and also served another year in Afghanistan as a senior director with DynCorp, a major contractor with the U.S. Army there.