As the governments of the United States and Iran inch closer to direct talks, an unusual bump in the road may have been hit. In the middle of the crisis surrounding the holding of American hostages, the Carter administration broke diplomatic relations with Iran on April 7, 1980. Beginning a year later, the Swiss Embassy in Tehran assumed responsibility for U.S. interests in Iran. Since August 3, 2006, the man in charge of the U.S. Interests section at the Swiss Embassy has been an obscure Swiss diplomat named Marco Kämpf. However, Iranian media have reported that Kämpf (50) has been sent back to Switzerland after being arrested for having "indecent contact" with an unmarried Iranian woman in a car in a parking lot in the mountains north of Tehran. Kämpf's recall happens to coincide with the departure of Switzerland's ambassador to Iran, Philippe Welti, who was the Bush administration's main contact inside Iran.
If Marco Kämpf really was engaged in an illicit love affair, the consequences for his lover will be dire. But if the Iranian media does not continue to cover her story, the possibility should be considered that Kämpf was set up by hardline elements hoping to discredit potential negotiations with the U.S.