State Department spokesman Ian Kelly dismissed rumors with "99 percent" certainty that Holbrooke aide Vali Nasr had not been to Iran since joining the State Department.
The Iranian press, however, is now expanding on its reports of Vali Nasr's alleged visit, suggesting that the agenda was to discuss an opening between Tehran and Washington.
Kelly did say that Nasr may have visited the Islamic Republic while still a private academic. This should not be a problem; I also visited Iran as a private academic and had a rewarding experience there. What Kelly does not say, however — and what no journalist asked — was whether Vali Nasr visited Iran using a United States passport or an Iranian passport. Foreign Minister Mottaki said that all Iranians are welcome to visit the Islamic Republic. This is true but, as in the case of Haleh Esfandiari and Roxana Saberi, this usually implies utilzing their Iranian rather than American passport.