Rice pushes for peace talks to resume


Israeli-Palestinian peace talks must resume, Condoleezza Rice said en route to the region.

“Negotiations ought to resume as soon as possible,” the U.S. secretary of state said Tuesday before beginning a troubleshooting trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“I will be talking about how we can get negotiations back on track.”

The United States, which wants Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to clinch a peace accord by year’s end, has voiced concern at Abbas’ decision to suspend talks in protest at recent violence in the Gaza Strip.

Rice made clear that the Bush administration holds Hamas and its cross-border rocket salvoes chiefly responsible for the bloodshed.

“Hamas is doing what might be expected, which is using rocket attacks on Israel to arrest a peace process in which they have nothing to gain,” she said.

But Rice was also expected to heed Abbas’ calls for U.S. pressure to be applied on Israel to ease conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank.

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