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Ambassador Limbert, Expert on U.S.-Iranian Relations to Speak; Film Screening Addresses Unrest After 2009 Iranian Elections

Friday, September 13, 2013

LAWRENCE--John Limbert, a former ambassador and diplomat in the Middle East, as well as a hostage in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, will talk on U.S.-Iranian relations during a visit to the University of Kansas.

Limbert will present "Iran and America: Eternal Enemies?" at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union.

Born in Washington, D.C., Limbert obtained his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University, the latter in History and Middle East Studies. Dr. Limbert has had a long and complex relationship with Iran. His first visit to the country was in 1962 when he traveled there with his parents who were working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.)  He later returned to Iran as a Peace Corps volunteer, then as a University English instructor. He became fluent in Persian (Farsi) and well-versed in the rich traditions of Persian poetry and literature.

Dr. Limbert joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1973, and was assigned to numerous posts throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In 1979, John Limbert's Foreign Service assignment placed him at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Less than 3 months into his post, he found himself witness to and participant in one of the most heated hostage situations in contemporary political history. The Iran hostage crisis lasted for 444 days and captivated the attention of the American people, having been the first incident of its kind to be prolifically played out in the media on a nearly daily basis.

Upon his return to the U.S., John Limbert went into a distinguished career in academia, with a break in 2000-2003 to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. In 2009, Limbert was appointed the first-ever U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran with the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. However, he resigned the position in 2010, dissatisfied with the lack of progress made by the (then relatively new) Obama administration with regard to improving U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran. Ambassador Limbert returned to the U.S. Naval Academy as Professor of Political Science following his time with the State Department.

John Limbert is the author of several books, including Iran: At War with History (1987), Negotiating with Iran: Wrestling the Ghosts of History (2009), and an in depth look at Persian poetry and literature entitled Shiraz in the Age of Hafez: The Glory of a Medieval Persian City (2004.)

As a lead event to Ambassador Limbert’s talk on Friday the 20th, there will be a film screening at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, September 18th at the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium. The film, The Green Wave, documents the turbulent events surrounding the 2009 presidential elections in Iran. The film is part of the KU Area Studies Centers' International Peace & Conflict Film Series, and will be followed by a panel discussion with KU Assistant Professor of Political Science, Gail Buttorff, and K-State Associate Professor of History, Ranin Kazemi.

Both the film screening and Ambassador Limbert's visit are sponsored by the Center for Global & International Studies, KU Honors Program, KU Persian Club and Iranian Studies Group. Ambassador Limbert will present his talk, “America & Iran: Eternal Enemies?”  on Friday, September 20th at 3:30pm in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union. Both the talk and the film event will be free and open to the public.  



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