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A senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown “arrogance” and “stupidity” in Iraq but was now ready to talk with any group except Al-Qaida in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera television aired late Saturday, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department offered an unusually candid assessment of America’s war in Iraq.
“We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq,” he said.
"We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation," he said, speaking in Arabic from Washington. "The Iraqi government is convinced of this."
The question of negotiations between the United States and insurgency factions has repeatedly surfaced over the past two years, but details have been sketchy. One issue that was often raised in connection with such negotiations was the extent of amnesty the United States and its Iraqi allies were willing to offer to the insurgents if they disarmed and joined the political process.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in Moscow with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, later said that Fernandez disputes the description of his comments.
“What he says is, that is not an accurate reflection of what he said,” McCormack said.