What were the prospects for a resolution of the current dilemma through a prisoner exchange — namely the 15 British sailors and marines seized by Tehran for the six Iranians held by U.S. forces in Iraq? The question drew a broad smile and this comment: “If everything develops as I hope it will, then about a week from today people may very well be speculating that this is what has happened. They might very well think that. Of course, government representatives would be at pains to convince them that there is no relationship between the releases, because it is the position of each of the governments involved that there can be no quid pro quo when it comes to hostages.” That’s about as close as a wiley diplomat would come to saying “yes.”
Now that’s entirely likely — though I have to say that Horton’s diplomat doesn’t really sound all that wiley to me. In fact, a resolution like this sounds very Cuban Missile Crisis-ish: we get something we want in exchange for giving them something we were probably planning to give them anyway. After all, how long were we planning on keeping those Iranians we detained a couple of months ago? Probably not much longer.