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Mitchell on Ahmadinejad Interview: ‘One of the most complicated challenges I’ve faced’

Mitchell_9.17.bmpNBC News chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell has experienced a lot in her 16 years on the beat. But she calls this week’s interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “one of the most complicated challenges I’ve faced.”

“I think largely because of all the competing internal divisions within their government, nothing was easy, before or after the interview,” Mitchell tells TVNewser. “The timing kept changing, apparently as they were negotiating amongst themselves about Sarah Shourd‘s release.”

Mitchell has been in Iran all week and was the first to report the news Tuesday that Shourd, an American hiker had been freed from 14 months in captivity.

Then came Wednesday’s interview with Ahmadinejad.

“I wanted very much to test Ahmadinejad’s attitudes on the nuclear stalemate before he came to New York for the UN meetings next week,” Mitchell says. Ahmadinejad told Mitchell the threat of more U.S. sanctions doesn’t bother him in the least: “Our nation does not need the United States whatsoever,” he told her.

As for the interview, Mitchell tells TVNewser the one competitive benefit is the multitude of outlets on which to report the news.

“Our big advantage was being able to broadcast so much of the interview on ‘Nightly News’ and ‘Today’ but also on my MSNBC show, on our other MSNBC programs and in full on,” she says. “We had a terrific NBC News team in Tehran and NY supporting all our efforts.”

ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, who spent her early years in Tehran, will interview Ahmadinejad for this Sunday’s “This Week.”

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