Straight Talk

Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing

Excerpt

QUESTION: Iran.

MR. WOOD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:
Can you talk about the discussions about a letter that possible President – that President Obama could be sending – considering sending to Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran as a possible overture to engage Iran?

MR. WOOD:
I don’t have anything about any possible letter, but that would be something that I’d refer you to the White –

QUESTION:
Well, there were some diplomats that briefed reporters over the last week that said that the Administration has kind of told the Europeans that one of the things that you’re considering in terms of your efforts to engage Iran is possibly – the way you would do that is to send a letter to President Khamenei – sorry, Ayatollah Khamenei.

MR. WOOD:
Look, you know we have a policy review underway on Iran, and –

QUESTION:
Is that one of the options being –

MR. WOOD:
Well, I’m not going to talk about options that are being discussed within that review. But with regard to some type of presidential letter, that’s something that would have to come out of the White House. I’m not aware of it.

QUESTION:
Well, this Administration never responded to President Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Obama congratulating him.

MR. WOOD:
As I said, there is a review on Iran policy underway. I don’t have anything more for you on that, Elise.

QUESTION:
Well, I mean, clearly you are looking for ways to engage Iran.

MR. WOOD:
Absolutely. We have said that.

QUESTION:
Could this be a possible –

MR. WOOD:
I just don’t want to get into a discussion of those ways that we may or may not be planning to engage Iran.

QUESTION:
Well, the first time this came up several weeks ago, both you from this building, and the White House from the White House building denied that there was any letter that was under consideration, and said that no one had been instructed to draft such a letter, and today it seems a little different. What’s the scoop?

MR. WOOD:
I’m not saying anything differently. I’m just saying to you that there is an Iran policy review underway, and I’d leave it at that.

QUESTION:
Well, but why can’t you say the same thing that you said before when this was first – this first bubbled up?

MR. WOOD:
I don’t want to. I don’t want to. (Laughter.)

QUESTION:
Well, that’s telling.

QUESTION:
I mean, if you’re denying that it wasn’t true then, you’re not denying that it isn’t true now.

MR. WOOD:
I’m just saying to you that there is a policy review underway with regard to Iran, and that’s how I’ve been answering those questions. I don’t want to discuss, you know, letters, policy ideas that have been floated; I don’t think that’s useful. I think once we have completed our review, we’ll be able to enunciate our policies, and then you’ll have – we’ll be able to answer a lot of your questions.

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