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When Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker enter the bridge of General Grievous’ ship near the beginning of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Grievous says

“Ah yes, the negotiator.”

I don’t know if he meant Obi-Wan, Anakin, or maybe even Palpatine, but regardless I don’t understand… Who is the negotiator?

And in fact, there didn't seem to be any negotiating at all, or any plans for there to be any.

The Jedi came to rescue Palpatine, and it seems that they didn't plan to do so peacefully. They entered the ship forcefully after destroying multiple separatist space droids, then immediately fought several battle droids, and killed Count Dooku.

It seems that they never planned to negotiate at all.

Why did he say this line then?

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    It's not sarcasm? – DavidW Nov 28 '19 at 4:44
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    I think he's referring to the fact that Obi-Wan was sent to negotiate with the Trade Federation back at the beginning of Phantom Menace. The failure of those negotiations led to the war, so presumably this was well-known. – Harry Johnston Nov 28 '19 at 7:01
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    If that's what you think, put it in an answer – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 28 '19 at 18:13
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    Reminds me of the scene in Fifth Element ("Anybody else wanna negotiate?"). – Will Crawford Nov 29 '19 at 11:45
  • What's the first scene we ever see Obi-Wan Kenobi in? That's right, the negotiations with the Trade Federation. That's obviously the job he has within the Jedi order. So Grevious is referring to him. – Django Reinhardt Nov 29 '19 at 17:45
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Because that's his nickname out in the galaxy.

Obi-Wan's diplomatic skills, specifically his reputation for preventing and stopping battles without using a single weapon, earn him the appellation "The Negotiator."

Ultimate Star Wars - New edition

The original script indicates this with a capital N.

GENERAL GRIEVOUS: Oh yes. General Kenobi, the Negotiator. We've been waiting for you. That wasn't much of a rescue.

The film's junior novelisation references this in the fight scene between Kenobi and Anakin

But when he looked back, Anakin was standing on a worker droid, coming up fast. “Your combat skills have always been poor,” he taunted. “You’re called the Negotiator because you can’t fight!”

Revenge of the Sith: Junior Novelisation

and the main novelisation mentions that his nickname is something of a joke among the senior Jedi.

“Masters, Masters, please,” Obi-Wan said. He looked from one to the other and inclined his head respectfully. “Perhaps there is a middle way.”

“Ah, of course: Kenobi the Negotiator.” Mace Windu settled back into his seating pod. “I should have guessed. That is why you asked for this meeting, isn’t it? To mediate our differences. If you can.”

Revenge of the Sith: Novelisation

21

The "Negotiations" are a euphemism for fighting.

The theme of "Negotiations" with relevance to Anakin and Obi-Wan appears in both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. At the start of The Phantom Menace, Obi-wan is accompanying Qui-Gon Jin to Naboo to negotiate a peace treaty and the end of the Trade Federation blockade of the planet. Then the Trade Federation attack them, which leads to Obi-Wan's quip, "you were right about one thing, Master: the negotiations were short". See this clip for details.

As a call back to this, in Attack of the Clones, Anakin relates stories of his adventures with Obi-wan during which they participated in "aggressive negotiations" or "negotiations with a light sabre". See this

and this...

So in Revenge of the Sith, Grevious' comment calls back to this theme. Off screen either Anakin or Obi-Wan (or possibly both) have gained a reputation for being formidable opponents. Grevious is being sarcastic, as he has killed Jedi before and he does not think them a threat to him.

As to which of them he is actually addressing the script states,

62 EXT. BRIDGE-TRADE FEDERATION CRUISER

OBI-WAN, ANAKIN, PALPATINE, and ARTOO are captured by GENERAL GRIEVOUS. They stand before the ALIEN DROID GENERAL.

GENERAL GRIEVOUS: Oh yes. General Kenobi, the Negotiator. We've been waiting for you. That wasn't much of a rescue.

A BATTLE DROID walks to GENERAL GRIEVOUS and hands him the JEDI'S lightsabers.

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    In the Clone Wars (CGI) pilot, Obi Wan provides a distraction by pinning the Separatist leader down in a mock surrender negotiation, allowing Anakin and Ahsoka to take out the shield generator. – GeoffAtkins Nov 28 '19 at 7:02
  • never seen the clone wars, I'll have to check that out! – dominic fonde Nov 28 '19 at 7:33
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    Sorry. It was the 2008 film, (which acted as a pilot for the TV show). Actually the show got a lot better. The film was very much made for children, the show (while it had parts that were quick juvenile) did get really quite dark. – GeoffAtkins Nov 28 '19 at 7:49

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