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Lunch with the FT: Bill Burns

Ambassador William J. Burns

By Gideon Rachman (original source Financial Times) 

“When President Obama wanted somebody to open secret negotiations with Iran in 2013, he turned to Bill Burns, widely regarded as one of the finest and most discreet US diplomats of his generation. But as I wait for the 59-year-old to arrive at the Covent Garden branch of Hawksmoor, an upmarket chain restaurant in London specialising in steaks, it strikes me that, in another life, Burns might himself have written an entertaining Lunch with the FT.

After thousands of American diplomatic cables were leaked to the international press via WikiLeaks in 2010, Burns found himself an unexpected beneficiary. “A Caucasus Wedding”, a telegram he sent to the US state department in 2006 while he was ambassador to Russia, recounting a raucous three-day Dagestani wedding attended by Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov, was described as a minor classic of comic writing, its tone very much not what one might expect of a diplomatic cable.”

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