View Full Version : Cancellation Of Rice Visit "Not Because Of Gov't Crisis" U.S. Insists

05-10-2007, 07:43 AM
Cancelation of Rice visit 'not because of gov't crisis,' U.S. insists


By Haaretz Staff and Reuters

The U.S. State Department denied yesterday that the decision to postpone Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Israel was a sign that the American administration is distancing itself from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert due to his government's turmoil.

"We work very closely with Prime Minister Olmert ... We are working very closely with him and his government as we speak on ... Israeli-Palestinian issues and how to move that process forward," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington.

Earlier Monday, a senior Israeli government source said that the decision to postpone Rice's visit is "unprecedented," Israel Radio reported yesterday.

It emerged Monday that Rice's visit to Israel and the PA, in which she was expected to prod both sides to carry out proposed U.S. benchmarks aimed at resuming peace talks, was delayed due to a political crisis brewing in Jerusalem.

Rice was due to arrive around May 15, but Israeli and Palestinian officials said the visit would be postponed due to the storm threatening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government.

The radio quoted the source as saying yesterday that the delay could be interpreted in the region as Washington's belief that there is no way to advance the peace process at the moment due to the turmoil in Israel.

According to the report, the source said that the decision to postpone had taken them by surprise, and that even as late as Monday, there had been coordination meetings with American officials at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

Change confirmed
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed the change in plans and suggested Rice was putting off the trip because of the Israeli political turmoil.

"It's possible that she could make a stop in the Middle East on this trip, although I would not expect, on this trip, that she would travel to Israel and the Palestinian areas," he said. "There's obviously a lot of politics in Israel that they are working through at this point but we are going to continue our efforts to advance the Israeli-Palestinian track."

It was not immediately clear when Rice would return to Israel and the Palestinian Authority or where else she may visit in the Middle East on the trip.

05-10-2007, 04:33 PM
Of course it is.