Oct 21, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from THE DAILY CALLER: The White House scrambled late Saturday to deny a New York Times report claiming Iran has agreed to meet directly with U.S. officials to discuss its nuclear program, sending New York Times editors rushing to quietly but substantially revise their initial reporting on a key foreign policy issue for the second time in as many months.
According to the Times, which anonymously quoted senior administration officials, Iran told diplomats it wanted to wait until after the November presidential election to put plans for the meeting in motion.
“It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions,” the Times report said.Within hours, White House officials responded the report was mostly inaccurate.
“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. ”[However, the White House has] said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”
“The President has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that,” Vietor added. “It has always been our goal for sanctions to pressure Iran to come in line with its obligations. The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure.”
Meanwhile, a senior administration official told NBC News on background that back-channel talks with Iran were in progress, but confirmed that no definite agreement about a meeting had been reached. When the New York Times updated its story late Saturday to reflect Vietor’s statement, the paper made no mention of the update or any correction to the story, leaving readers with the impression that the White House’s denial had been in the story all along. In fact, the initial version of the story portrayed the development as a tentative victory for the Obama administration, which has recently been faced with foreign policy crises in the Middle East and Libya.