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Condi’s Double Standard: I Can Chat With Iranians But Khalilzad Can’t

By Ben Armbruster  

"Condi’s Double Standard: I Can Chat With Iranians But Khalilzad Can’t"

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angry-rice-02-06.jpgOn January 27, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad participated in a panel discussion on Iranian foreign policy alongside two Iranian officials – Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, and aide to President Ahmadinejad, Samare Hashemi — without authorization from the Bush administration. While previous reports noted that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was “angered” by Khalilzad’s move, Reuters reports today that Rice has now personally “chastized” Khalilzad for the appearance:

Rice summoned Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to the State Department on Monday for him to explain his attendance at the meeting, which irked the White House and was not cleared beforehand. The United States does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran.

“I think everyone agrees that these things should be coordinated and it should have been coordinated,” Rice told reporters traveling with her to London where she will have talks on Afghanistan.

Khalilzad did not speak directly to Mottaki or Hashemi and “stuck to the administration playbook” on Iran policy during the Davos panel.

Rice’s criticism of Khalilzad stands as a glaring double standard. At a conference on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last May, Rice exchanged “pleasantries” and talked about ice cream with Mottaki during a private lunch:

On Friday, The Iranian foreign minister entered the lunch, greeting the gathered diplomats with the Arabic phrase, `”As-salama aleikum,” a Muslim greeting often used by Iran’s Farsi speakers meaning “Peace be upon you,” according to an Iraqi official who was present.

Rice replied to him in English, “Hello,” then added, “Your English is better than my Arabic,” according to the Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the lunch was private.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit then piped in, telling Mottaki, “We want to warm the atmosphere some.”

Mottaki smiled and replied in English with a saying, “In Russia, they eat ice cream in winter because it’s warmer than the weather” – more or less meaning, “You take whatever atmosphere-warming you can get.”

“That’s true,” Rice replied, according to the Iraqi official.

Did President Bush “authorize” Rice to discuss ice cream with the Iranian foreign minister back in May? Rice’s message to Khalilzad seems to be: “Do as I say and not as I do.”

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