COMMENTS: Simply Clarifying

Overseas there was news on Iran, Lebanon and Afghanistan. CBS' David Martin reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is "scrambling" to find reinforcements to Afghanistan. A Marine Corps force of 2,200 that is currently on standby in the Persian Gulf for duty in Iraq may be diverted and the pentagon has a "pressing need" for more unmanned reconnaissance drone aircraft to monitor the border with Pakistan…the State Department has reversed its longstanding boycott of diplomacy with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Undersecretary William Burns will attend talks on its uranium enrichment program. "The White House is insisting this is not negotiating: 'We are just simply clarifying our position,'" reported ABC's Martha Raddatz, "but the fact is they are sitting down at the table with the Iranians and that is a first for the Bush Administration"…the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers whose capture two years ago triggered a 34-day war with Lebanon were returned by the Hezbollah militia. In exchange Israel handed over the remains of 199 fighters plus five live prisoners. Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah characterized the deal as a "victory over Israel," noted ABC's Simon McGregor-Wood (embargoed link).


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