Iraq's Destiny Is Tied to U.S. Policy in Iran
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
President Bush met with members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group at the White House today. Next month the commission will present its report to Congress and the administration laying out possible changes to U.S. policy. Asked about the meeting, here is some of what the president had to say.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not going to prejudge the Baker Commission's report. I was pleased to meet with them. I was impressed by the quality of their membership. I was impressed by the questions they asked. They want us to succeed in Iraq, just like I want to succeed. So we had a really good discussion. I'm not sure what the report is going to say. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
BLOCK: That's President Bush speaking today at the White House.
NPR's senior new analyst, Daniel Schorr, is also looking forward to seeing the Iraq Study Group's report, and he says the U.S. will likely look for help from other countries as it looks for a way forward in Iraq.
DANIEL SCHORR: A apparently despairing of resolving the Iraq conflict within Iraq alone, the Iraq Study Group has begun exploring ways to enlist the influence of neighboring countries, especially Iran, which has influence with the Shiites of Iraq. Last month the commission's chairman, James Baker, had a three-hour dinner meeting in the New York home of Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran, at loggerheads over Iran's nuclear program.
But Baker, although he briefs the White House, can claim not to represent the government. Baker has some experience in multilateral diplomacy. In 1991, as the senior President Bush's Secretary of State, he organized with Soviet support a conference in Madrid of Israel and its neighboring states that launched the first ever direct talks between Israel and all its neighbors.
But that was before there was an Iranian nuclear program that drew down American sanctions and international condemnation. Undoubtedly Iran could be of service in trying to resolve the Sunni/Shiite sectarian war, but Israel for one would be strenuously opposed to including Iran in any regional conference.
It may be coincidental that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and leaders of the Iraq Study Group are in Washington simultaneously discussing their overlapping problems. What effect these consultations will have on the central American political problem - when the troops can come home - that's hard to read at this point. But clearly some move will be made to internationalize the problem of Iraq.
This is Daniel Schorr.