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Rice to Israel soon

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Condoleezza Rice will visit Israel
before the end of the month.

The visit, announced Wednesday night after the U.S.
secretary of state met with Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, would be
Rice’s second this year.

Rice has said Israeli-Palestinian peace would be a top
priority for her last two years in office. She and Livni discussed the 2002
Arab peace initiative, which offered comprehensive peace to Israel
in exchange for a return to 1967 lines.

Livni and Rice both regard the initiative as a starting
point, and not a bottom line; Israel
had rejected its language until now because it implied an unfettered right of
return to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Israeli officials now
believe that Arab leaders also understand they must retreat on the refugee
issue.

Israel
is seeking a comprehensive Arab peace as a means of pressuring the Palestinians
into repudiating their Hamas government.

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