Orange Juice Diplomacy

This weekend, U.S. diplomats go to Baghdad for a regional conference to discuss Iraq. In attendance will also be Iran and Syria, countries that the U.S. has previously refused to talk with directly. Michele Norris and Melissa Block describe one unexpected detail in the weekend's events, and what role it might play: orange juice.


In other diplomatic news, Americans will be sharing the table with Iran and Syria this weekend. They'll all be taking part in a regional conference in Baghdad to discuss solutions to sectarian violence there and security throughout the region.

The Bush administration had said previously it would not talk directly with Syria or Iran on the issue of Iraq. The administration accuses both countries of aiding the insurgency There.


Well in a briefing yesterday, the State Department's Iraq coordinator, David Satterfield, said he will be willing to talk if the Syrians or Iranians approach the American delegation. So why the change of heart? Listen closely. Here's exactly what David Satterfield had to say.

DAVID SATTERFIELD: If we are approached over orange juice by the Syrians or the Iranians to discuss an Iraq-related issue that is germane to this topic - stable, secure, peaceful, democratic Iraq - we are not going to turn and walk away.

NORRIS: You heard it, approached over orange juice. That's what he said.

BLOCK: Orange juice.

NORRIS: Melissa, between Satterfield and the reporters, this particular beverage, orange juice, came up not one but five times during the briefing, and we can now confirm that orange juice is on the menu at tomorrow's meeting. Iraq's foreign minister told Reuters today that lunch, soft drinks and orange juice will be served.

BLOCK: And we have no idea, we should say, why this is the fruity beverage of choice at these talks, whether it has led to any diplomatic breakthroughs before, whether it serves any particular diplomatic purpose in this meeting.

NORRIS: And who knows, perhaps a glass of orange juice may serve as an olive branch. However, we have no word whether the orange juice will be from concentrate or, perhaps, fresh-squeezed.

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