Glenn Kessler “this morning”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/07/AR2007020702408.html reported that, during a hearing yesterday, SecState Rice claimed to have never seen “this 2003 proposal”:http://www.armscontrol.org/pdf/2003_Spring_Iran_Proposal.pdf from Iran.
According to the _Post_:
bq. “I have read about this so-called proposal from Iran,” Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, referring to reports in The Washington Post and other publications last year. “We had people who said, ‘The Iranians want to talk to you,’ lots of people who said, ‘The Iranians want to talk to you.’ But I think I would have noticed if the Iranians had said, ‘We’re ready to recognize Israel.’ . . . I just don’t remember ever seeing any such thing.”
If anyone at State wants to refresh her memory, they can check the proposal out “here”:http://www.armscontrol.org/pdf/2003_Spring_Iran_Proposal.pdf. Subsequent Iranian proposals related to their nuclear program and other issues can be found “here.”:http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Iran_Nuclear_Proposals.asp
Anyway, the _Post_ article gives some details about the State/NSC sausage factory:
Rice dismissed yesterday the earlier comments of [former NSC official Flynt] Leverett.
“First of all, I don’t know what Flynt Leverett’s talking about, quite frankly,” she said. “Maybe I should ask him when he came to me and said, ‘We have a proposal from Iran and we really ought to take it.’ ”
Leverett said yesterday that he became aware of the two-page offer, which came over a fax machine at the State Department, in his waning days in the U.S. government as a senior director at the National Security Council, but that it was not his responsibility to put it on Rice’s desk because Rice had placed Elliott Abrams in charge of Middle East policy. “If he did not put it on her desk, that says volumes about how she handled the issue,” he said yesterday.
Abrams is currently the deputy national security adviser in charge of the Middle East and democracy promotion. An NSC spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of Abrams, said yesterday that Abrams “has no memory of any such fax and never saw or heard of any such thing.”
Former State Department officials have said that they saw the Iranian offer and used it as a key element in a 2003 memo to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell proposing that the United States pursue a “grand bargain” with Iran. The Iranian offer was attached to the memo, but Powell did not forward the memo to the White House, officials said.
Kessler also did some more homework:
bq. Last June, Rice appeared to confirm, in an interview with National Public Radio, that the White House had received the memo. “What the Iranians wanted earlier was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran,” Rice said. State Department officials at that time did not dissuade reporters from interpreting her comments as referring to the 2003 fax.
Here is the “relevant portion”:http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/67391.htm of that interview:
QUESTION: Some officials who work with you at the White House and at the State Department said that the U.S. missed an opportunity in 2003, that Iran came to the U.S., wanted to talk, and the U.S. rejected that. And that was a period when the U.S. was stronger. It appears that the U.S. is coming to this in a much weaker position. Aren’t you?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I think coming to the table with the entire international community united around a particular course is a pretty strong position to be in. What people wanted, what the Iranians wanted earlier, was to be one-on-one with the United States so that this could be about the United States and Iran. Now it is Iran the international community, and Iran has to answer to the international community. I think that’s the strongest possible position to be in.
Not a denial.