Obama and Bill Clinton to Hold SummitBy JOHN M. BRODER
Senator Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton plan to meet for lunch on Thursday at Mr. Clinton's offices in Harlem, their first extended face-to-face encounter after more than a year of tense relations, aides said Sunday.
The current plan is for Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton to have lunch at the Clinton Foundation headquarters on West 125th Street in Harlem with one close aide each. There have been discussions about the men possibly then doing a walking tour of the neighborhood, but that has not been settled.
Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Mr. Obama will be in New York for a memorial ceremony at Ground Zero that morning with his Republican presidential rival, Senator John McCain, an event that both candidates say is intended to be non-political.
When Mr. Clinton learned that Mr. Obama would be in New York on Thursday for two appearances, he invited him to lunch at the foundation offices, aides said.
The terms of the Clinton-Obama meeting have been negotiated warily for weeks through a veil of mutual suspicion. Mr. Clinton has felt for months that Mr. Obama has not paid him the proper respect as a former president and many close to Mr. Obama believe that Mr. Clinton dealt dismissively with him during the campaign.
The icebreaker may well have been Mr. Clinton's effusive speech at the Democratic National Convention, in which he – for the first time – declared Mr. Obama fit to be president. During the long primary season, Mr. Clinton, speaking on behalf of his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama's experience and qualifications for the presidency.
In his convention speech, however, Mr. Clinton heaped praise on Mr. Obama, the new leader of the Democratic Party, and promised to do everything he could to get him elected. He acknowledged with a smile, however, that he would have preferred that Mrs. Clinton were preparing to accept the nomination.
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama have spoken several times on the telephone since Mr. Obama nailed down the nomination in early June, but aides described those conversations as generally businesslike, even at times frosty.
The two men spoke the Friday before the Democratic convention about Mr. Clinton's speech and the campaign ahead, but there was no resolution of several issues, including the Obama campaign's desire to see a copy of Mr. Clinton's speech well in advance of its delivery the following Wednesday. Mr. Clinton did not share a draft of his speech until a couple hours of before taking to the podium in Denver.
Mr. Clinton has privately complained that Mr. Obama has courted major figures in the Democratic Party, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, while making little effort to seek Mr. Clinton's support or guidance.
But aides said that both men are now focused intently on the fall election and have put aside whatever resentments or rivalry they may feel.
The lunch will be private and it is not known whether Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama will have any statement afterward. But Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have agreed to suspend all negative advertising aimed at each other on Sept. 11 and it seemed unlikely that Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton would use their meeting for overtly partisan purposes that day.
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