The U.S. has defended its decision to send former diplomat Frank Wisner to Egypt despite knowing that he worked for a lobbying group, Patton Boggs — that lobbied on behalf of the Egyptian government here.
Mr. Wisner was uniquely placed to deliver a “blunt and candid private message” to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.
“We asked him to undertake a one-time mission, and during the course of that mission he delivered a blunt and candid private message. We feel he was uniquely positioned to deliver this message and have it heard by President Mubarak.
When he came back, he briefed the Secretary on his discussions in Egypt. At that point, his mission was completed,” he said.
Over the weekend, the Obama Administration was quick to distance itself from Wisner remarks at a Munich conference in which he said that Mubarak needs to stay in power for some time.
News reports here have said that Mr. Wisner is working for an eminent lobbying firm, Patton Boggs, which among others lobbies on behalf of the Egyptian Government at the Capitol Hill.
Thus it was a clash of interest for Mr. Wisner, news reports here said.
“We are aware of his employer. By the same token, we’re also aware he is a distinguished diplomat, former ambassador to Egypt. We felt that he was uniquely positioned to have the kind of conversation that we felt needed to be done in Egypt,” Mr. Crowley said.
At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Mr. Wisner is not an employee of the government.
“He was, based on his broad experience in Egypt, asked by the State Department to travel to Cairo and have a specific conversation with President Mubarak. He did, and reported that back to us,” he said.
“But his views on who should or shouldn’t be the head of Egypt don’t represent the views of our administration. The views of our administration are that those are decisions that will be made by Egyptians,” Mr. Crowley said.