Criticizing McCain for opposing negotiations with Iran, Biden said even the Bush administration now favors such talks – which Obama has long supported.
“After seven years, in which our senior diplomatic personnel were not allowed to make a single contact with Iranians, the Bush administration realized the absurdity of its own policy and sent our leading diplomat to Iran,” he said. “The Assistant Secretary of State as he went to Tehran, sat down at the instruction of the President of the United States.”
It sounds great for Obama and Biden that the president came around to something so close to their position on talks with Iran; trouble is, the event Biden described never actually happened.
In point of fact, the one “meeting” that has taken place was in Geneva, Switzerland, when Under Secretary of State William Burns sat in on a discussion between Iranian representatives and the other “P5 1″ political directors involved in nuclear talks. The meeting, while a first, was not a negotiation; Burns was there merely as an observer, and had no formal role or talks with the Iranians.
So, point by point: Burns was not sent to Tehran; he did not go to Tehran; and there was no such instruction from the President.
Why the story from Biden? Turns out, he was taking a characteristic detour from his prepared text. Here’s the far more factually accurate version of what he was supposed to say:
“After seven years in which our senior diplomat responsible for Iran was not allowed to meet a single Iranian, the Bush administration realized the absurdity of its policy and sent a leading State Department official to deal directly with Tehran.”
Biden’s spokesman David Wade admits the slip of the tongue, but says “I’d bet my first born that the McCain campaign, led by a candidate who thought Czechoslovakia was still a country, doesn’t realy want to have a debate on geography. To sum it up: wrong city, right policy.”
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