Unilateral negotiations with Iran?

The NYTimes claims,

The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Not so, says National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor… or did he?,

Vietor, however, denied that any such agreement had been reached.

“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” he said. We continue to work with the P5+1 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”

And now the Christian Science Monitor is saying that

Iran followed the United States on Sunday in denying that the two countries had scheduled direct bilateral negotiations on Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Meanwhile, one day away from the presidential debate on foreign policy, this reaction’s not unreasonable,

Interestingly, so is the timing of the Zombie Fidel rumors, since both Iran and Cuba would like to influence the outcome of an American presidential election, but I digress.

While the Iran story came out, I was watching Argo, an excellent movie spoiled by Jimmy Carter’s little monologue trying to get some credit for the rescue of the six Americans. The 444-day long Iranian hostage crisis was not the shiniest moment of the Carter administration.

You can’t watch Argo and not think of the September 11 Benghazi attack, particularly during the scenes where we are subjected to the Iranian propaganda and the storming of the embassy. The parallels abound,

In fact, “Argo” may also inadvertently malign the current administration. Once more, the Middle East is on fire, an inept White House is inadvertently fanning the flames with appeasement-style policies and “Death to America” chants are heard across the region.

And now one-on-one negotiations with Iran? Or not?

UPDATE,
Via Ed Driscoll/Instapundit, “Even if the story turns out to be true, I don’t think it will help him. “We’re going to talk to the Iranians!” isn’t a very sexy headline.”

UPDATE 2, Oh, look, Putin flexes muscle in big test of Russia’s nuclear arsenal

And, NEW YORK TIMES CAUGHT EDITING IRAN STORY AFTER WHITE HOUSE DENIALS

The DC‘s Gregg Re writes:
When the New York Times updated its story late Saturday to reflect [National Security Council spokesman Tommy] 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. 

The new version of the Times’ story also removed this line about the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions: “Even with possible negotiations in the offing, there is no evidence Iran has slowed its fuel production.”

Normally, a pro forma denial by the White House would not send reporters and editors scurrying to cover up their work. With good sources, and reliable information, journalists could be expected to stand by their story.

Now, with the Times carrying out edits that it apparently hoped ho one would notice, the entire story seems like a desperate attempt to set the stage for the Third Presidential Debate in a way that favors the incumbent.

(h/t Judith)


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