NPR logo Iran Stiffs Obama On July 4 Fetes And White House Is OK With That

Iran Stiffs Obama On July 4 Fetes And White House Is OK With That

Correction: The July 4th festivities the White House invited Iranian diplomats to were at U.S. embassies, not the White House as was erroneously reported in an earlier version of this posting. The posting has been corrected to reflect the reality. Sorry for the really stupid error.


By Frank James

About those open invitation the Obama Administration sent Iran's diplomats to join the July 4th festivities at U.S. embassies around the world? Well, forget about it.

The Iranians didn't respond and, to be honest, the White House wasn't disappointed. Indeed, if the Iranians had RSVP'ed, the White House would have let the Iranians know that they were no longer welcomed.

Not sure how that tracks with President Barack Obama's plan to engage the Iranians. Maybe that's off too, though the president appeared to keep the door open to the possibility at yesterday's press conference.

Here's Gibbs' exchange with reporters today about the invitation:

REPORTER: Robert, there was a wire report before we came out here having to do with possibly the administration was rethinking these invitations to Iranian diplomats on the 4th. Did something change? Has that changed?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think as you all know, many weeks ago the administration extended an invitation to celebrate the freedom that this country enjoys. Not surprisingly, based on what we see going on in Tehran, nobody's RSVP'ed.

REPORTER: So that —

MR. GIBBS: Well, let me finish.


MR. GIBBS: Understand what — and you all do — July 4th allows us to celebrate the freedom
and the liberty we enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble peacefully, freedom of the press. So I don't think it's surprising that nobody's signed up to come. Given the events of the past many days, those invitations will no longer be extended.

REPORTER: Fair enough.

MR. GIBBS: Jonathan?

REPORTER: Let me clarify. You just said that those invitations —

MR. GIBBS: There's nothing to clarify. I think I was pretty — let's just say this. I was clear enough that Chuck didn't follow up. (Laughs.)

REPORTER: Okay. (Laughter.)

REPORTER: What you're saying is if somebody RSVP'ed —

MR. GIBBS: No, I said nobody's RSVP'ed.

REPORTER: And if somebody RSVP'ed, would they have been allowed in the door?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I appreciate the hypothetical that no longer exists on God's green earth. But again —

REPORTER: (Off mike.)

MR. GIBBS: I know. (Laughter.) Why I scratched the scab, I'll never know.

REPORTER: Are the invitations rescinded? is the question.


REPORTER: Okay. And —

MR. GIBBS: Was that your question?

REPORTER: That was going to be my question. And to follow, the meaning of that would be — is that a signal that the invitation for talks that are — were extended, April 8th at the P-5 plus one —

MR. GIBBS: That — that invitation has also not been addressed, but that invitation continues.