U.S.-Iran education exchange plans cool over hardliners’ spy charges

The Mail Online is reporting, via Reuters, on new that a proposed USA-Iran education exchange programme has been put on hold.

Just before last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, five U.S. universities visited the country to explore renewing educational ties that flourished before the Islamic Revolution.

The group, which included representatives from Rutgers and the University of Southern California (USC), found a desire on both sides for more exchanges and concluded that U.S. students and scholars would be warmly welcomed in Iran.

But there was a hitch – the head of the delegation, Allan Goodman, was a former U.S. intelligence analyst. In March this year he was attacked in hardline Iranian media reports which have painted the June 2015 visit as a U.S. attempt to build an espionage network and undermine the Iranian state.

U.S. officials and Goodman’s employer, the Institute of International Education (IIE), say that’s not the case and that there was no U.S. government involvement in the trip.

Nevertheless, the negative press reports have cooled efforts to rebuild educational ties in the wake of the landmark nuclear deal, two U.S. officials said. They said the U.S. government is now cautioning American universities against moving too fast and that the schools themselves are treading warily.

“People looked at that backlash and said ‘Let’s go slow,'” said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Read more: U.S.-Iran education exchange plans cool over hardliners’ spy charges

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