Tales from the Trail

Ghosts of Christmas past haunt State Department

December 8, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas past are hovering in the halls of Foggy Bottom this week.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was among those who materialized at the State Department on Monday for the unveiling of the official portrait of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a swank affair that also drew former German and Russian foreign ministers, former network anchors and a former White House chief of staff (not to mention a former First Lady in the person of current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton). USA/

On Tuesday, it was time for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now reincarnated as the special envoy of the “Quartet on the Middle East” – the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia.

“It’s a pleasure to be back here in the State Department, I’d like to thank Secretary Clinton for welcoming me,” Blair told reporters before starting discussions with Clinton.

Despite the season, neither Clinton nor Blair appeared inclined to discuss the Holy Land — or the European Union call on Tuesday for Jerusalem to be made the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state, something Israeli leaders reject.

“It’s a difficult moment right now — but then it always is,” Blair said — as succinct a summary of the Middle East situation as one could ask for, Christmas past present or future.

After their brief appearance,  the current secretary and the former prime minister vanished behind closed doors and Tuesday’s State Department apparition was over.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Blair and Clinton in February)

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