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Changing Conditions

5:06 PM, May 10, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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In today's New York Times, the Obama campaign clarifies their position on holding talks with Iran:

Susan E. Rice, a former State Department and National Security Council official who is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic candidate, said that "for political purposes, Senator Obama's opponents on the right have distorted and reframed" his views. Mr. McCain and his surrogates have repeatedly stated that Mr. Obama would be willing to meet "unconditionally" with Mr. Ahmadinejad. But Dr. Rice said that this was not the case for Iran or any other so-called "rogue" state. Mr. Obama believes "that engagement at the presidential level, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate preparation, can be used to leverage the change we need," Dr. Rice said. "But nobody said he would initiate contacts at the presidential level; that requires due preparation and advance work."

This is patently false. As LGF notes, Obama could not have been more clear in making a pledge to hold unconditional talks with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. From last summer's YouTube debate:

In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them - which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration - is ridiculous.

He further stated that the president's failure to engage in direct diplomacy with these rogue states was a "disgrace." And he doubled down in an interview with the New York Times in November of last year, saying he would "engage in aggressive personal diplomacy" with Iran, and that he would do so "without preconditions."

More recently, Samantha Power, while she was still with the campaign, reiterated the position, saying that Obama would meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, and North Korea, and that only Hamas would be excluded from Obama's diplomatic outreach to terrorists and dictators. For some reason, the New York Times felt none of this particularly relevant to their reporting on the issue.

HT: Hot Air