Rice meets, lauds P.A. leaders


Condoleezza Rice endorsed the new Palestinian Authority government under Mahmoud Abbas.

The U.S. secretary of state, on the last leg of a Middle East tour, visited Ramallah on Thursday for talks with the Palestinian Authority president and Salam Fayyad, the Western-backed reformist he appointed prime minister after firing the previous, Hamas-led Cabinet.

“We do have in the Palestinian territories a government that is devoted to the international principles, the foundational principles for peace, and this is an opportunity that should not be missed,” Rice told reporters before meeting Abbas.

Abbas aides said he told Rice he was ready to draft with Israel a “declaration of principles” for final peace negotiations that would lead to the foundation of a Palestinian state. But Abbas’ authority is effectively limited to the West Bank after rival Hamas Islamists took over the Gaza Strip in a June coup.



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