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Summit Yields Little Progress

Key leaders met to keep the so-called “Road Map” Peace Plan alive. But how successful was it?
 

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JERUSALEM, Israel - While every indication was that today's trilateral summit with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would have little to show for the effort, nonetheless, all three agreed to meet. Shortly after arriving in Israel Saturday, Rice met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Prior to their dinner meeting, Livni told reporters that before Israel could work with any PA government, it would have to accept the three benchmarks stipulated by the Quartet - U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russia - to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, denounce terrorism, and abide by previously signed agreements between Israel and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization). At Sunday morning's Cabinet meeting, Olmert told his staff that in a phone conversation Friday, President Bush affirmed that the U.S. would not accept a PA government that refuses to acknowledge Israel's right to exist and renounce violence. On Sunday morning, Rice traveled to Ramallah to meet with Chairman Abbas. Later, she met with Prime Minister Olmert. There were no statements to the press following these pre-summit conversations. In between these meetings, Rice made time for an interview with the Israeli daily Ha'aretz and met with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, accompanied by Chief of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin. She also met with Salam Fayyad, a candidate for finance minister in the new PA government. Following the two-hour summit, Rice spoke briefly to reporters, though neither Olmert nor Abbas accompanied her. "All three of us affirmed our commitment to a two-state solution, agreed that a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terror, and reiterated our acceptance of previous commitments and obligations, including the road map," she said. After expressing her personal commitment to peace efforts and saying that both men agreed to meet again soon, she left the room before fielding any questions. Sources: The Associated Press, Ha'aretz

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