A Game of Winks and Nods

Why both sides are downplaying a U.S. payment to Iran

In his Inaugural Address last January, George Bush obliquely appealed to Iran to work with him for the release of nine American hostages held by Islamic groups in Lebanon. Since then the U.S. and Iran have carried on a delicate game of winks and nods, feints and gestures. The game sometimes requires both sides, for their own reasons, to pretend that they are not actually playing. And for the Americans, there is always the suspicion that the Iranian aloofness is for real.

Nonetheless, a subdued hope of movement surrounded the news last week that the U.S. had consented to repay $567...

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