Obama, Condoleezza Rice chat about foreign policy, books
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama met Friday at the White House with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice for a chat on foreign policy and her new memoir, officials said.
Rice gave the president a “personalized copy” of “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family,” in which Rice describes her childhood in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, a White House spokesman said.
The Oval Office meeting marked the first time Rice has been back to the White House since former president George W. Bush left office.
They discussed “a range of national security issues, and we’re going to leave it at that,” said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton earlier would not say whether the topics for discussion included Afghanistan or Iraq, subjects on which Obama and Rice have sharply divergent views.
“She was going to be in town,” Burton told reporters as he flew to Philadelphia with Obama for a campaign event. “The president obviously couldn’t make the book party later today, but he wanted to bring her in and have a chat with her.”
At her meeting with Obama, Rice also gave the president a copy of the young adult version of her memoir for his daughters Sasha and Malia, Vietor said. The book went on sale Tuesday.
Obama and Rice are both racial pioneers. He is America’s first African American president, and author of his own memoir “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” and she is the highest-ranking black woman in the history of the executive branch of the US government.
But politically they are miles apart. Rice served in the White House as Bush’s national security advisor from 2001 to 2005. She then was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009.
A Republican, she was a key player in the US decision to invade Iraq in 2003, a course of action that Obama campaigned against in his 2008 run for the presidency.
Obama also frequently criticized Bush’s White House team for neglecting the Afghan war, as he formulated a new strategy last year.