In 1985, President Reagan entered Bethesda Naval Hospital for colon cancer surgery. While the President was recovering in the hospital, McFarlane met with him and told him that representatives from Israel had contacted the National Security Agency to pass on confidential information from what Reagan later described as the "moderate" Iranian faction headed by Rafsanjani opposed to the Ayatollah's hardline anti-American policies.  According to Reagan, these Iranians sought to establish a quiet relationship with the United States, before establishing formal relationships upon the death of the aging Ayatollah.  In Reagan's account, McFarlane told Reagan that the Iranians, to demonstrate their seriousness, offered to persuade the Hezbollah militants to release the seven . hostages.  McFarlane met with the Israeli intermediaries;  Reagan claimed that he allowed this because he believed that establishing relations with a strategically located country, and preventing the Soviet Union from doing the same, was a beneficial move.  Although Reagan claims that the arms sales were to a "moderate" faction of Iranians, the Walsh Iran/Contra Report states that the arms sales were "to Iran" itself,  which was under the control of the Ayatollah.