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NOW on the News with Maria Hinojosa

Lila Azam Zanganeh on Engaging Iran

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This week, Maria Hinojosa talks to journalist Lila Azam Zanganeh about President Ahmadinejad's letter to the American people, the need for dialogue between Tehran and Washington, and what Iranians really think of Americans.

Interview Highlights:

Lila Azam Zanganeh
Photo by Hank Gans
"Iran has become increasingly relevant because of the Iraq war, and what this administration has done is just consistently go in the wrong direction with regards to Iran."

"We now have a leader, Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has become a leading figure in the Middle East because of [the Iraq war]."

"Iranians are thirsty to be taken seriously, basically, by the Americans."

"Someone like Jimmy Carter who has known the Middle East for such a long time, who has some degree of standing in Iranian imagination as an American president who didn't do everything wrong, could have a real voice."

"The only way we have of dealing with Iran is actually opening that door to dialogue. What we need badly is a Nixon in China operation."

"One of the problems with the 'axis of the evil speech' by President Bush is that ... he fueled anti-American sentiment in Iran."

"Condoleeza [Rice] in Iran is almost a joke."

"The mullahs have never thrived as much as they have in the last two years ... before there was some sense that their hands were tied."

"Ahmadinejad, in spite of his delusions, is far less of an idiot than people take him to be, and in that he is not dissimilar to Bush, who possibly is not as moronic as people take him to be either."

"Of course they've wreaked havoc, the Iraq war is a disaster for the Middle East in terms of the larger implications."

"Iran is not part of the Arab world... Now more than ever it is very thirsty for a very special place in the Middle East, the position of a negotiator."

About Lila Azam Zanganeh

Lila Azam Zanganeh was born in Paris to Iranian parents. She is a graduate of the École Normale Supérieure, where she studied literature and philosophy, and holds a masters degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

Zanganeh initially moved to the United States in 1998 to teach literature, cinema and Romance languages at Harvard University. She has been a contributor to Le Monde since 2002 and has also been published in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Nation, and La Repubblica.

Her first collection of narrative essays, "My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes," was published by Beacon Press in April 2006. She is currently at work on a book about the Russian-born American novelist, Vladimir Nabokov.

Related Links:

» NOW: Interview with Lila Azam Zanganeh

» NOW Excerpt: "My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes"

» NOW on the News: Interview with Tehran-based journalist Maziar Bahari

» Lila Azam Zanganeh's Website

» The Washington Post: Full text of President Ahmadinejad's letter to Americans

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