Ardeshir Zahedi

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Ardeshir Zahedi
Zahedi in 1968
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
12 January 1966 – 12 September 1971
Prime MinisterAmir-Abbas Hoveida
Preceded byAbbas Aram
Succeeded byAbbas Ali Khalatbari
Ambassador of Iran to the United States
In office
7 March 1973 – 11 February 1979
Preceded byAmir Aslan Afshar
Succeeded byMehdi Haeri Yazdi
In office
16 March 1960 – 3 March 1962
Preceded byAli Gholi Ardalan
Succeeded byHossein Ghods-Nakhai
Ambassador of Iran to the United Kingdom
In office
Preceded byMohsen Rais
Succeeded byAbbas Aram
Personal details
Born(1928-10-16)16 October 1928[1][2]
Tehran, Persia (now Iran)
Died18 November 2021(2021-11-18) (aged 93)
Montreux, Switzerland
(m. 1957; div. 1964)
ChildrenZahra Mahnaz Zahedi[3]
Parent(s)Fazlollah Zahedi
Khadijeh Pirnia
Alma materUtah State University

Ardeshir Zahedi, GCVO (Persian: اردشیر زاهدی; 16 October 1928 – 18 November 2021) was an Iranian politician and diplomat who served as the country's foreign minister from 1966 to 1971, and its ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s.

Early life[edit]

Born in Tehran on 16 October 1928,[4] he was the son of General Fazlollah Zahedi, who served as prime minister after participating in the CIA-led coup which led to the fall of Mohammed Mossadegh, and wife Khadijeh Pirnia.[5]

Zahedi received a degree in agriculture from Utah State University in 1950,[6] where he was a member of Kappa Sigma. Seven years later, he married the daughter of the Shah of Iran, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi; the marriage ended in divorce in 1964.

Political life[edit]

Zahedi with President Richard Nixon in Tehran, 1969

Zahedi served as ambassador to the United States from 1960 to 1962 and to the United Kingdom from 1962 to 1966.[7] He served as minister of foreign affairs from 1966 to 1971 in the cabinet of Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveida.

Ardeshir Zahedi with his father-in-law, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Zahedi again became ambassador to the United States from 1973 until the Iranian Revolution climaxed in January 1979. During his second stint in Washington, he won a reputation for extravagance. In the mid-1970s, Zahedi became known as a companion of the American actress Elizabeth Taylor.[8] During the 1977 Hanafi Siege of a federal building in Washington, Zahedi and two other ambassadors from Muslim nations were able to talk the hostage-takers into surrendering and releasing 149 hostages.

Over the course of 1978, it was reported in some circles that Zahedi urged the Shah to appease the rioters by making scapegoats of several high-ranking officials, including Amir Abbas Hoveida (then Prime Minister) and SAVAK director Nematollah Nassiri. When the Shah left Iran in 1979, Zahedi was still serving as ambassador in Washington, but resigned as soon as Khomeini came to power. He started fervent attempts at securing political asylum for the ailing Shah and the Imperial family in Panama, Mexico, Morocco and finally Egypt. He was present at the Shah's death bed and funeral in Cairo in 1980.

Later years[edit]

Zahedi lived in retirement in Montreux, Switzerland.[5] He received honorary doctoral degrees of law and humanities from Utah State University, East Texas State University, Kent State University, St. Louis University, University of Texas, Montana State University, Washington College, Westminster College, Harvard University, Chung-Ang University of Seoul, and the College of Political and Social Science of Lima in Peru. In December 1976, in a ceremony held in Washington D.C., Zahedi was awarded the Kappa Sigma Fraternity 'Man of the Year' Award. In 2002, he was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Honor of the Utah State University College of Agriculture. He received many awards and honors from nations around the globe for his humanitarian service and record in international affairs.

He died peacefully at his residence in Montreux, Switzerland; from COVID-19 and pneumonia[9] on 18 November 2021, aged 93.[10][11]

Zahedi's archives is held in the collection of the Hoover Institution.[12]


In an interview in May 2006, Zahedi voiced his support for Iran's Nuclear Program stating it as an "inalienable right of Iran", under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He told Voice of America that the U.S. approved the start of Iran's $50 billion nuclear program in the 1970s. Two documents in particular, dated 22 April 1975 and 20 April 1976, show that the United States and Iran held negotiations on a nuclear program and the U.S. was willing to help Iran by setting up uranium enrichment and fuel reprocessing facilities.[13]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Web Page Under Construction". Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Index Z".
  3. ^ "Exemption from court fees in lawsuits against the heirs and relatives of the deceased king". Islamic Parliament Research Center of The Islamic Republic of IRAN (in Persian). Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  4. ^ روزشمارى انقلاب اسلامى. 1997. ISBN 9789644712678.
  5. ^ a b "Biography". Ardeshir Zahedi. Archived from the original on 27 November 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  6. ^ USU Alumni= Great Success Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Utah State University
  7. ^ "State Intelligence". London Gazette (Issue 44249). 14 February 1967. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  8. ^ Ellis Cashmore (25 February 2016). Elizabeth Taylor: A Private Life for Public Consumption. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 194. ISBN 978-1-62892-067-3.
  9. ^ "Ardeshir Zahedi obituary". The Times. 25 November 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  10. ^ اردشیر زاهدی، وزیر خارجه پیشین ایران، درگذشت Radio Farda. (in Persian)
  11. ^ "Zahedi, playboy Iran ambassador to US under shah, dies at 93". AP News. 18 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Ardashīr Zāhidī papers". Online Archive of California. Hoover Institution Library & Archives. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  13. ^ Dafna Linzer (27 March 2005). "Past Arguments Don't Square With Current Iran Policy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  14. ^ "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".

Further reading[edit]

  • Ardeshir Zahedi, The Memoirs of Ardeshir Zahedi: Volume One [English Language], (ِIbex Publishers). ISBN 978-1-58814-073-9.
  • Ardeshir Zahedi, The Memoirs of Ardeshir Zahedi: Volume Two [English Language], (ِIbex Publishers). ISBN 978-1-58814-099-9.
  • Ardeshir Zahedi (اردشیر زاهدی), The Memoirs of Ardeshir Zahedi: Volume One [Persian Language] (Khaterat-e Ardeshir Zahedi -خاطرات اردشیر زاهدی), (ِIbex Publishers). ISBN 978-1-58814-038-8.
  • Ardeshir Zahedi (اردشیر زاهدی), The Memoirs of Ardeshir Zahedi: Volume Two [Persian Language] (Khaterat-e Ardeshir Zahedi -خاطرات اردشیر زاهدی), (ِIbex Publishers). ISBN 978-1-58814-065-4.
  • 'Alí Rizā Awsatí (عليرضا اوسطى), Iran in the past three centuries (Irān dar Se Qarn-e Goz̲ashteh - ايران در سه قرن گذشته), Volumes 1 and 2 (Paktāb Publishing - انتشارات پاکتاب, Tehran, Iran, 2003). ISBN 964-93406-6-1 (Vol. 1), ISBN 964-93406-5-3 (Vol. 2).
  • Fereydoun Hoveyda, The Fall of the Shah, translated by Roger Liddell (Wyndham Books, New York, 1980). ISBN 0-671-61003-1, ISBN 978-0-671-61003-6.
  • "The 38 Hours: Trial by Terror". Time. 21 March 1977. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007.

External links[edit]