Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is hitting back at former Vice President Dick Cheney, who in his new book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” reportedly accused her of being naïve during nuclear negotiations with North Korea and of misleading her superiors about the talks.
“I kept the president fully and completely informed about every in and out of the negotiations with the North Koreans,” Rice told Reuters today in her first comments on the matter.
“You can talk about policy differences without suggesting that your colleague somehow misled the president. You know, I don’t appreciate the attack on my integrity that that implies,” the former top American diplomat added in the interview.
Rice’s office did not return an email for comment.
The feud between Cheney and Rice over the Bush administration’s North Korea policy is nothing new. The two were said to have dueled for influence on the matter as Rice sought to strike a deal with Kim Jong Il that would remove his nuclear weapons stockpile.
Rice eventually won out when the Bush administration agreed to remove North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, and there were signs that Cheney was not happy about it. A June 2008 New York Times article reports that Cheney abruptly canceled an off-the-record session with foreign policy experts when asked about the North Korea policy. According to the report, Cheney froze for several seconds when asked, then referred the questioner to the State Department and ended the event.
Later that year, in the waning days of the administration, Rice’s negotiator, Christopher Hill, triumphantly returned from Pyongyang declaring that North Korea had agreed to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Not long after, North Korea was removed from the terror list.
However, North Korea never followed through. It turns out Hill never got the agreement in writing, and U.S. officials at the time said that Rice was furious and chewed out her negotiator. Ultimately the talks fell apart, and have remained stalled ever since.
The next volley in the Rice-Cheney battle comes out later this fall, when Rice publishes her own book.