Rice come to Israel to discuss peace talks


Condoleezza Rice came to Israel to assess the rate of progress in peace talks with the Palestinians.

The U.S. secretary of state, on her second troubleshooting trip this month, flew in to Tel Aviv late Saturday and joined Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for dinner.

During her three-day visit, Rice will also meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan and hold three-way meetings with negotiators from both sides.

Though Rice is believed to be hoping for signs of a diplomatic breakthrough that President Bush can unveil when he comes to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in May, she denied seeking to apply pressure on Olmert or Abbas.

“I am not coming to insert American ideas into this process,” Rice told reporters.

But she added that, in talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, she would raise ideas for easing conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Barak has so far stood firm in the face of Palestinian demands for a sweeping removal of West Bank checkpoints, citing Israel’s security.


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