(04-10) 18:42 PDT — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, just back from a trip to Syria that sparked sharp criticism from Republicans and the Bush administration, suggested Tuesday that they may be interested in taking another diplomatic trip – to open a dialogue with Iran.
The Democratic speaker from San Francisco and Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, were asked at a press conference in San Francisco Tuesday whether on the heels of their recent trip to the Middle East they would be interested in extending their diplomacy in the troubled region with a visit to Iran.
“Speaking just for myself, I would be ready to get on a plane tomorrow morning, because however objectionable, unfair and inaccurate many of (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s) statements are, it is important that we have a dialogue with him,” Lantos said. “Speaking for myself, I’m ready to go — and knowing the speaker, I think that she might be.”
Pelosi did not dispute that statement, and noted that Lantos — a Hungarian-born survivor of the Holocaust — brought “great experience, knowledge and judgment” to the recent bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in addition to Syria.
“I find the president of Iran’s remarks to be so repulsive that they are outside the circle of civilized human behavior,” Pelosi said, referring to Ahmadinejad’s past comments that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map and his questioning of the existence of the Holocaust.
“But a person of Mr. Lantos’ stature and personal experience is saying that — even as a Holocaust survivor and even recognizing the outrageous statements of the president of Iran — it’s important to have dialogue. I think that speaks volumes.”
“There was, of course, a shadow over all of it, Iran: Iran’s support of terrorist groups is something that must be stopped,” she said. “Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon is something that must not happen and we must stop them with the strongest of diplomatic measures.”
Yes, and I’m sure a little fireside chat with Ahmeanie and the mullahs will do just that, Ms. Speaker.