(This post has been updated.)
The United States, in what may be among the first negotiated deals with Iran since relations broke off in 1980, is allowing the Iranian Interests Section in Washington to move to new headquarters on 23rd Street Northwest in West End.
In exchange, Switzerland, which had been looking for new space for the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran — because the current offices, we were told, were “no longer viable and pretty decrepit” — will be getting new offices as well for the U.S. facility.
“Reciprocity is the hallmark of diplomacy,” one source told us. “This was a swap.”
This news comes after Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s visit in New York last week to the elegant second-floor parlor in the residence of the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations — making Kerry the first senior American official to, at least technically, set foot on Iranian soil in decades.
We asked whether the deal indicated a thaw in relations and was related to negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programs.
A State Department official, in an e-mail reply Thursday, said “there is no connection that we are aware of between this long-planned relocation and the ongoing . . . negotiations to address the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.”
“The Iranian Interests Section requested last year to relocate to a new address,” the official said, “and permission was granted, per standard protocol.” (The Iranians say they’ve been trying to move to new space for about 30 years.)
The Iranian mission here, which is technically under the auspices of Pakistan, basically handles visas, passports and some cultural matters for the estimated 1.5 million Iranian Americans in this country. It’s currently housed on Wisconsin Avenue north of the Georgetown Social Safeway and above the Wide World of Wines.
Well, this is one deal the Senate won’t get to review.