President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has agreed to allow a Harvard scholar to be buried in the historic Iranian city of Isfahan when he dies.Richard Nelson Frye, 87, a professor emeritus of Iranian and Central Asian studies at Harvard University, made his request in a letter addressed directly to Ahmadinejad, AP said.
“I ask the Iranian president to allow my burial in the beautiful city of Isfahan to prove the unbreakable link between the honorable Iranian and American nations,” Frye was quoted as saying in his letter.
Frye said he expects to receive formal notification from Iranian authorities when he visits the Iranian mission to the United Nations on Monday.
Frye first visited Central Asia during World War II when he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, and his desire to be buried in Iran dates to the time of the shah.
“I’ve been connected to this part of the world for 65 years or more, when I was stationed in Afghanistan, Istanbul, and Iran,” he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home in Brimfield, Mass.
His affection for Iran and its people grew during his scholarly pursuits, and he wants to be buried near Arthur Pope, his mentor and predecessor as director of the Asia Institute in Shiraz.
Frye said he made similar requests to Ahmadinejad’s predecessors. “It’s been a long process, and finally they have come through,” he said.
Famous for its Islamic architecture, the central Iranian city of Isfahan was the site of the country’s capital twice throughout history, most recently under the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century.
In addition to praising Frye, Ahmadinejad provided words of support for the American nation in his written authorization.
“Both the Iranian and American nations are seekers of monotheism, justice, and the beauty of pure thoughts,” said the Iranian president. “While hoping for long life for this introducer of Islamic culture to other people in the world, it is necessary to arrange the realization of his wish.”