CONTINUED "Social functions," explains one of his aides, "are relaxing, stimulating, and informative to the ambassador. He's a bachelor. He enjoys mixing. He finds that a party is a good device to get people to drop their professional postures. He can invite Senator McGovern, President Nixon, Senator Fulbright, Henry Kissinger and Rose Mary Woods to, the same party and make it work. (Zahedi tossed' such a party last July on the occasion of the Shah and Empress' state visit to Washington.) The art of relationships "Sure," his aide continues, "caviar, belly dancers, and the other exotic trappings popularize and publicize his parties, but most of his guests come to see him. He understands the art of human relationships. He knows how to handle people. He deals with them 'honestly and gently. He doesn't play one off against the other." While Zahedi is easy to be with and warmly responsive, he's also something of a showman, politician and swinger all rolled into one. There's one story that on the night before he was scheduled to present his ambassadorial credentials to President Nixon, he somehow got himself locked into a second- tjteor bedroom of his residence with several people during a party. Wherj morning came, he couldn't get out. So, dressed in formal regalia and wearing all his decorations for the presentation, the agile, athletic ambassador decided to climb down from the window. Fortunately, his chauffeur spotted him on the sill and brought a ladder to his rescue. Says syndicated columnist Joe Alsop: "Zahedi looks and sometimes acts the playboy, but he's frightfully shrewd and a darned able man." ^e's also generous, particularly where women are concerned. He recently gave one lady friend a jeweled brooch valued in the thousands. Another companion of the ambassador says: "Ardeshir is so spontaneous. He'll meet someone he likes, on the street comer and the next day they'll receive a kilo of caviar." Mystical practices Among his recreations is astrology and palmistry, an expertise which he inherited from his father. "My father once predicted a man's death," he recalls, "so I'm very careful when I practice it." Zahedi's popularity stems not only his personality but from his power. Senators, diplomats, journalists, businessmen, and lobbyists all know that | he is a trusted adviser of the Shah and Â£ served for three years as foreign min- Â£ ister of Iran. And Iran--an oil-rich, S strategically located militarily-powerful i country is rapidly emerging as a sort of Hani-superpower. Â£ A Moslem, but non-Arab, kingdom, Actress Liza Minnelli and former U.S. Attorney Genera/ Elliot Richardson are two of the notables who have been party guests of Ambassador Zahedi (center). slightly larger than Alaska, Iran, along with Saudi Arabia, will supply by 1980 more than one-fourth of all the oil consumed in the U.S. In the last year Iran's foreign exchange earnings zoomed from $2Vi to $15 billion. The result is that it has an economic growth rate second only to Japan. Once an. inward-looking, backward country, Iran now has the producing resources and the political will at top to play an activist role in regional and international affairs. According to Zahedi, the Iranians have styled themselves a moderating influence in the politically explosive Middle East. In the recent oil embargo they expressed support for their Arab neighbors, but they.declined to participate in the embargo or to sever ties with Israel. They also maintain a guarded but friendly relationship with the Soviet Union which borders their country; at the same time they buy. huge amounts of arms from the U.S. It is a delicate balancing act they perform. Zahedi's job in this country, as he sees it, is to promote Iran's image by making as many friends for Iran as possible. He and the Shah would like their capital city, Tehran, to replace Beirut in Lebanon as the financial, cultural, and political center of the Middle East. To achieve this goal, Zahedi is busy forging ties, professional and personal, with the most influential politicians, artists, scholars, and businessmen in the U.S. He thus travels coast to coast, attending seminars, making speeches, granting interviews, holding a tete-a- . tete with regional leaders. Zahedi knows the United States well. "I first came to this country/' he recalls, "in 1943 when I was 15.1 came to study agricultural engineering. First I enrolled at Columbia University, then at UCLA, then at California in Berkeley, and finally I was graduated from Utah State University. I transferred to Utah because my English wasn't good enough for me to keep up with those large post-World War II classes. "In fact," he explains, "during my first few months in this country, I /. W;7//am Fulbright, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, his daughter and Ambassador Zahedi (I.) applaud exotic dancer at embassy party. couldn't even read a menu. Every meal I ordered ham and eggs, which I knew how to pronounce." Nowadays, most of the Iranian Embassy's parties are catered by two staff chefs. But Zahedi's years in America have also taught him the pleasures of informal cuisine. In the best backyard fashion, he likes to don a chef's hat occasionally and concoct a barbeque of Iranian kebobs for a small, select group of friends. He pleased his father During his student days Zahedi worked in a steel mill in Gary, Ind., on a railroad in Alaska, and in the fruit groves of California. "I was afraid to tell my father how I was spending my summers. I thought he would be angry. But when he found out he was pleased and even sent me extra spending money." Zahedi's father, Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, was one of Iran's wealthiest landowners and political strongmen. With the assistance of our CIA, he helped the Shah return to power after a brief but bloody coup d'etat in 1953. Subsequently he served as Prime Minister, then as Iran's ambassador to the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva. He died in 1963. For seven years Ardeshir Zahedi was related to the Shah by marriage. In 1957 he wed the Shah's then 17- year-old daughter, Princess Shanaz, who gave birth to a daughter the next year. Immediately he became the youngest envoy in Iran's diplomatic corps, was dispatched to Washington as ambassador, then to London in the same capacity. In 1964, Zahedi and his princess-wife were divorced. "I offered to resign at the time," Zahedi says, "but the Shah wouldn't let my relationship with his daughter interfere with rriy duties, even though, I must tell you, it was my fault that we were separated." The need for heirs The Shah, of course, is no stranger to divorce himself, having been married three times. His first wife was Queen Fawzia, sister of the late Egyptian King Farouk. The Shah divorced Fawzia some 26 years ago because she could bear him a daughter but no son, no fault of hers. He divorced the German-bom Queen Spraya, his second wife, because she could produce no children. It was Zahedi.who, shortly after losing his status as royal son ih- law, became royal matchmaker. In 1959 at a tea in his home-he introduced Farah Qiba, a stunning Iranian art student, to the Shah. Ten days later Farah and the Shah were engaged. Farah is the current queen and mother of the Shah's heirs/ And Ardeshir Zahedi--he stands as one of the Shah's most trusted and powerful advisers--not only in matters of the heart but in matters of the state as well.
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