Sunday, September 22, 2013

Putin, Iranian leader take their messages to op-ed pages

In just the past week, two world leaders – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani – have launched major diplomatic initiatives toward the United States, not through the United Nations or their consulates, but on the editorial pages of American newspapers.
Is it just a coincidence or the beginning of a new trend?
Putin said the idea to write an op-ed piece for a U.S. daily came to him “completely by chance.” He said he wanted to convey his opinion on what would happen after limited airstrikes on Syria in a direct, unfiltered way to the American people and their representatives in Congress.
The op-ed appeared in The New York Times on Sept. 11, the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and he later praised the paper for publishing it just as he wrote it. But it didn't matter to Putin which paper published his writing. 
Still, Putin seems to have started a trend: On Friday, the name of Iran’s president appeared as a simple byline on The Washington Post’s Opinion page: “Why Iran Seeks Constructive Engagement” by Hassan Rouhani. 
And while Putin’s editorial was placed in The Times by Ketchum, an international public relations and marketing agency, the Post’s editors said they had worked directly with Iranian officials. 

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