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Caucus Chairman Emanuel on Iran, White House Criticism of UN Ambassador Khalilzad

From the Democratic Caucus:

EMANUEL STATEMENT ON IRAN, WHITE HOUSE CRITICISM OF UN AMBASSADOR KHALILZAD

Washington, D.C. — House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement after today's New York Times reported that the White House criticized United States ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, for sitting next to the Iranian foreign minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

“When it comes to Iran the Bush-Cheney Administration never misses and opportunity to miss an opportunity. Now we see the White House attacking our well respected UN Ambassador for simply sitting next to an Iranian official at the World Economic Forum last week when he was in fact making the U.S. case on Iran to the international community. This is just another example of the administration’s failed policy on Iran in disarray. Instead of attacking our own ambassador, the Bush Administration should have seen the World Economic Forum as an opportunity to advance US interests. Instead, the White House continues to squander chances to make progress even in its last year.”

White House Criticizes Envoy Over Iran
Helene Cooper, New York Times – January 30, 2008

White House officials expressed anger on Tuesday about an appearance in which the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, sat beside the Iranian foreign minister at a panel of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Saturday.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, and the Bush administration has limited its official high-level dealings with Iran to discussions about Iraq, primarily in Baghdad. Administration officials said that Mr. Khalilzad's appearance beside Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Davos at a panel on Iranian foreign policy surprised senior Bush administration officials, who became aware that Mr. Khalilzad had appeared with Mr. Mottaki only when a video of the discussion appeared on YouTube on Tuesday.

Mr. Khalilzad was still in Europe and could not be reached for comment. His spokesman, Richard A. Grenell, characterized Mr. Khalilzad's appearance beside Mr. Mottaki as “just a multilateral conversation with the moderator.”

“There was no separate meeting or separate conversation or handshake with the Iranian foreign minister,” Mr. Grenell said. But administration officials said that White House officials, in particular, were angry about the episode. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal administration affairs.

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