Once again, the Department of State has demonstrated its incredible resistance to the practice of diplomacy. Jimmy Carter, whose record of defusing international crises won him the Nobel Peace Prize, has been "counseled" by State not to meet with Hamas political leadership because such a meeting would undermine our policy of isolating terrorist groups — a policy that, in my view, has proven to be totally misguided. Nothing is more valuable, after all, to effective diplomacy than eyeball-to-eyeball contact with one's "enemy."
Here is a link to an excelllent Aljazeera video report on YouTube about President Carter's proposed peacemaking trip and the Department's advice to Carter against meeting with Hamas. The text of an Al Jazeera news report appears below.
US tells Carter not to meet Hamas
Hamas said Carter requested a meeting with Meshaal [EPA]
FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008
5:07 MECCA TIME, 2:07 GMT
The US state department has urged Jimmy Carter, the former president, not to violate foreign policy by meeting Hamas's political leader during a tour of the Middle East next week.
The "advice" follows plans by Carter to meet Khaled Meshaal in Syria on a nine-day trip that is to include Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
On Thursday Hamas officials said Carter had requested a meeting with Meshaal, the Palestinian group's political leader in exile in Syria.
"There is an agreement to hold the meeting and arrangements are under way," Ayman Taha told Reuters, adding that the meeting had been fixed for April 18.
The US-based Carter Centre did not confirm the meeting or "any specifics" in Carter's undisclosed itinerary.
But Sean McCormack, the state department spokesman, said the former US leader was "counselled" against meeting any Hamas representatives because it went against US foreign policy of isolating the group.
"US government policy is that Hamas is a terrorist organisation and we don't believe it is in the interests of our policy or in the interests of peace to have such a meeting," he said on Thursday.
The former president had earlier discussed with David Welch, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, plans to meet Meshaal.
The centre said Carter, a Nobel Peace laureate, was leading a study mission as part of his efforts to "support peace, democracy and human rights" in the Middle East.
"This is a study mission and our purpose is not to negotiate but to support and provide momentum for current efforts to secure peace in the Middle East," it said in a statement.
"Our delegation has considerable experience in the region, and we go there with an open mind and heart to listen and learn from all parties."
Israel, which also calls Hamas a terrorist organisation, expressed concern over the meeting, which would be the first public contact between a US leader and Hamas officials in two years.
"The unintended consequences of such a meeting would be to embolden terrorists and undermine the cause of peace," Sallai Meridor, Israel's ambassador to the US, told Reuters.