Obama insiders already in secret talks with Iran, Syria

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
French news agency AFP is reporting that individuals associated with the Administration of US President Barack Obama have held several secret meetings with Iranian and Syrian officials during the past several months. The Agency describes the clandestine meetings as “high-level” and notes that the Obama team approved them “even before winning the November 4 election”. Some of the meetings appear to have been coordinated by the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, a Nobel Prize-winning anti-nuclear proliferation group. The Executive Director of the group’s US branch, Jeffrey Boutwell, describes the US-Iranian contacts, which took place in The Hague and in Vienna, as “”very, very high-level”, and notes that they covered issues beyond Iran’s nuclear program, including “the Middle East peace process [and] Persian Gulf issues”. Among Iranian officials who attended the meetings was Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, the Iranian permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as officials “of equal or greater seniority” than Soltanieh, including Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, senior advisor to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Two identified American participants of the meetings were former US Defense Secretary (in the mid-1990s) William Perry, and former Clinton Administration officials Ellen Laipson and Gary Samore. Both have been associated with the Obama Transition team, and Mr. Samore was tipped a few days ago to head a new office in the Obama Administration tasked with “preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism”. Asked about the high-level US-Iran-Syrian contacts by The Cable, a daily blog by Foreign Policy magazine, Samore simply said that he would abide by the meetings’ ground rules, which forbade him “to disclose who was there or what was said”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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