Heard Around Town: Hagel, Russia, and the Middle East Peace Summit


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A source has told me that Senator Chuck Hagel had a recent meeting with Russian Federation Ambassador to the U.S. Yuri Ushakov who confessed that the Russians are frustrated and nearly furious with the Bush administration over the lack of coordination and preparation before the upcoming November Middle East Peace Summit scheduled to take place in Annapolis.
Ambassador Ushakov allegedly told Hagel that he’s never seen anything like this. He said there are normally side agreements orchestrated, diplomatic understandings, and significant coordination efforts. Most Middle East summits attempted before involved enormous heavy-lifting before the meeting. However, according to a significant source, absolutely nothing of import is happening between White House officials and key stakeholder governments in the region — including Russia which is one of the Middle East Quartet members.
This is interesting because the State Department is packed with pros — particularly people like Assistant Secretary of State David Welch. They must know that there is little if any nemawashi — or “planting the roots” as Japanese would say — going on.

— Steve Clemons


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