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Obama Will Meet with Leader of Iran (TBD)

12:13 AM, May 20, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Obama advisor Susan Rice serves up the nuance to Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: "How does Senator Obama defend that decision to meet without preconditions with a leader like Ahmadinejad?"

RICE: "Well, first of all, he said he'd meet with the appropriate Iranian leaders. He hasn't named who that leader will be. It may, in fact be that by the middle of next of year, Ahmadinejad is long gone."

BLITZER: "Let's be precise because when they criticize Barack Obama, not only John McCain but others, for suggesting that he would meet without preconditions with Ahmadinejad, who only last week on Israel's 60th anniversary called Israel a ‘stinking corpse.' The question that they ask is what is Barack Obama going to talk with him about?"

RICE: "Well, first of all as I said, it would be the appropriate Iranian leadership at the appropriate time - not necessarily Ahmadinejad."

Translation: Ahmadinejad may not be the leader of Iran when Obama is president, in which case Obama isn't going to travel all the way to Tehran just to make a social call on a Holocaust denier. But, if there is some more reasonable tyrant with whom Obama can meet, then the "tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions" is on for sure.

Essentially, it depends on what your definition of the word "leader" is, because if you read his original pledge carefully, nowhere did Obama promise to meet with the current leader of Iran. Rather, as Rice now explains for us, Obama hasn't yet "named who that leader will be."

And for the record, Ahmadinejad's current term runs through August 2009. He is expected to seek "reelection," unless Obama appoints someone more acceptable in his stead.