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Senate Confirms Bush’s Choice to Head Bureau on Middle East

The Senate last week confirmed John Kelly to be assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

President Bush, meanwhile, announced that Richard Schifter would continue as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs, retaining the post he has held since late 1985, when he succeeded Elliott Abrams.

Kelly, who was confirmed by voice vote June 14, began work immediately, co-chairing a U.S.-Soviet meeting of Middle East experts here last Thursday and Friday.

Kelly co-chaired the meeting with Dennis Ross, who heads the department’s policy-planning staff and who led a State Department delegation last month to Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

Leading the Soviet side was Vladimir Polyakov, who heads the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s Middle East department. State Department spokes-woman Margaret Tutwiler said Friday she would have nothing to report about the meeting.

Meanwhile, a letter signed by more than 230 members of the House of Representative was sent to Secretary of State Baker on Friday.

Similar to one sent a week before by 95 senators, the letter calls on the secretary show full support for Israel’s proposal for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Also on Friday, Israel’s minister of justice, Dan Meridor, met with Baker, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.

Meridor also spoke Friday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Saturday at the 76th annual meeting of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in New York.

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