President Carter’s letter to Zia on his firm diplomacy

Bangladesh was at the forefront of the diplomatic efforts to tackle the hostage crisis in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Ziaur Rahman personally wrote a letter to President Bani Sadr of Iran after the Islamic Revolution regarding the hostage crisis and Bangladesh decided to boycott the Moscow Olympics to protest Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.

President Jimmy Carter wrote President Ziaur Rahman a letter to encourage his diplomatic efforts, on April 30, 1980.

Letter From President Carter to Bangladeshi President Zia.

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your letter on the occasion of your New Year’s celebration. Mrs. Carter joins me in wishing you and the people of Bangladesh all success and happiness in the year ahead.

I very much appreciate your sharing with me your concerns regarding the serious threats to peace and stability in Asia. The similarity of views between our two governments on these questions is gratifying. I am also pleased to note that Bangladesh continues to value the close ties of friendship and cooperation between our two nations, and I want to assure you that we share these sentiments fully.

Bangladesh’s strong stand against Soviet aggression in Afghanistan has been an important element in the impressive show of international solidarity that Soviet actions have provoked. I am particularly pleased by Bangladesh’s decision not to participate in the Moscow Olympics, since this is clearly one of the most effective means of demonstrating to the Soviet people our determination never to condone aggression. I trust that with Bangladesh’s support and example, the Islamic Foreign Ministers will reaffirm next month the strong position they took on Afghanistan at their last meeting, especially their principled stand against participation in the Moscow Olympics. That action would add great moral weight to the growing move to boycott the Olympics.

I appreciate your initiative in writing to President Bani Sadr about Iran’s continued detention of American citizens and, in particular, your support for the early transfer of the hostages to the custody of the Iranian Government. I hope you can understand the depth of our anger and frustration at the manner in which the Iranian authorities have dealt with us during recent months. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in the rescue operation that would have resolved this problem to the benefit of the hostages, my country, and the international community. We will not, however, let up in our efforts.

My decisions to strengthen economic sanctions and sever diplomatic relations will have a much better chance of persuading the Iranians to take some positive action if they are reinforced by parallel actions on the part of our friends, especially those with some influence with Iran. The Iranians must be made to understand that the continuation of this crisis will seriously damage their political and economic interests and their standing in the community of nations. Perhaps the Islamic Foreign Ministers Conference will provide an opportunity to bring these points home to the Iranians. I pray that your efforts and those of our other friends will help us resolve this crisis peacefully and soon.


Jimmy Carter


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