Rep. George Hansen (R-Idaho), the controversial congressman who twice visited Iran as a self-appointed negotiator, met with Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie, along with Muskie's deputy, Warren Christopher, for an hour and 15 minutes Friday evening, Hansen told reporters yesterday.
His purpose at the meeting, which was set up at his own request, Hansen said, was to convince the administration that the time is ripe for Congress to set up a committee, "hopefully bipartisan, which could study the hostage situation and offer itself as a contact" for negotiations with the Iranian leadership.
House Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.), who has supported the idea of a congressional role in the hostage negotiations, served as an intermediary in setting up the meeting, Hansen said.
A State Department spokesman confirmed only that the meeting took place and reiterated the administration's policy of pursuing the release of the 52 hostages through a variety of channels.
Hansen characterized the meeting as "productive," though he would not say it produced any change in administration policy. "We opened some doors, clarified some things . . . On balance I think at least they [the administration] won't stand in the way of individual initiative by Congress people as long as they're within appropriate bounds."
Also present at the meeting was Arnold Raphel, a top State Department aide on Iranian affairs, Hansen said.