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Originally published September 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 26, 2008 at 11:54 AM

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Turns out, Palin had met with a foreign leader

When Gov. Sarah Palin told ABC's Charles Gibson that — as governor of Alaska — she had never met with the leader of another nation, she apparently forgot about her meeting last year with Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sarah Palin's trip to New York this week was billed as the Republican vice-presidential candidate's first chance to meet with foreign heads of state. That perception was fueled by her comment this month, when she told ABC News' Charles Gibson that — as Alaska governor — she never had met with the leader of another nation.

But Palin misspoke, perhaps forgetting about a meeting with Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson last October in Anchorage. The meeting was confirmed Thursday by Bill McAllister, Palin's Alaska press secretary.

Iceland, a nation of some 300,000, has taken a lead in developing geothermal-energy resources, and Grímsson spoke at an Arctic energy symposium, and then had a private meeting with Palin. They talked for the better part of an hour, primarily about geothermal energy and Iceland's expertise in developing that resource, according to Mead Treadwell, an Alaska Republican and Arctic expert who attended the meeting.

"[Grímsson] is a head of state, I know that," Treadwell said. "And we have pictures of them together taken at the meeting."

Gibson, in his Palin interview broadcast Sept. 11, grilled the governor on her foreign-policy experience, asking if she'd ever met with a head of state who can negotiate for that country.

"I have not," Palin said, "and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you."

McAllister said he hadn't spoken to Palin about the remark. But he guessed that the governor was "probably thinking in terms of major events, thinking about Putin, and they seemed to be talking about issues on a larger platform."

Just this week, Grímsson was back in Anchorage to attend another international forum on Arctic issues.

This time, he met with Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell while Palin was in the Lower 48.

"She would have probably met with him again had not circumstances intervened," McCallister said.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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