IRAN: Pillar of the Soviet

As a good Moslem, austere, 73-year-old Ahmad Gavam Saltaneh ("Pillar of the Kingdom") forever fingers his tasbi (beads) to ascertain whether or not the fates will be kind to him. As a large landowner in Russian-occupied Azerbaijan, he knows one way they might not. Last week, as Iran's new Premier, he felt reasonably sure that kismet was on the side of his 52-51 Majlis majority.

Gavam moved fast. He ordered Iran's UNO delegate to negotiate the Azerbaijan dispute with Russia, off the floor. In Teheran he announced: "I intend also to open direct negotiations with the Soviet Government."

Russia responded warmly. The...

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