Thursday, November 30, 2006

Amman summit debunked

On the principle that one sometimes learns more from questions than from answers, the key question in one of the White House background briefings today -

Q But there were reports from inside the Iraqi side of the meeting that they basically blew off the questions about Moqtada al-Sadr, side-stepped, wouldn't answer, went on, despite the President's entreaties.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is not at all how I saw it. I cannot comment on Iraqi reports of the meeting. There was a discussion about militia and it was responded to in what seemed to me certainly a very appropriate response from the Prime Minister about taking the importance of using force or other means to deal with these kinds of problems, and that no one, regardless of their political or sectarian identity, should be immune from that. So I did not find that to be a side-stepping of the question.

UPDATE: In a different briefing, aboard Air Force 1 on the way back, the answers are mainly interesting for their Benny Hill quality --

MR. HADLEY: When the President and Prime Minister Maliki went one-on-one with translators, Condi and I then had the national security advisor, the foreign minister and some other Iraqi officials, General Casey, Zal, Meghan O'Sullivan, had a -- in the ante-room, and Tony joined that, as did Dan Bartlett and Josh Bolten a little bit way into it ...

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