JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State arrives to Jerusalem and meets Israel's Olmert in effort to bolster peace...
- Title: JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State arrives to Jerusalem and meets Israel's Olmert in effort to bolster peace talks
- Date: 4th May 2008
- Summary: (W4) JERUSALEM (MAY 3, 2008) (REUTERS) WIDE OF CONVOY CARRYING RICE ARRIVING TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER EHUD OLMERT'S RESIDENCE SECURITY OUTSIDE OLMERT'S RESIDENCE
- Reuters ID: LVA9OW3ZI58PV4JCZVFJLAYWLUBY
- Duration: 00:01:15
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: US Secretary of State Rice arrives to Jerusalem and meets with Israel's Olmert, in an effort to push peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrived for a brief visit in Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Saturday evening (May 3).
Speaking to reporters on the plane as she began a two-day visit to the Middle East to try to speed up Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Rice said she planned to review whether Israel had taken steps on the ground to improve the lives of Palestinians and would press for more barriers to be dismantled. Rice also urged Israel not to undercut Palestinian security forces as they deploy in the West Bank.
She also plans to assess the extent to which the Palestinians have honoured their own commitments, which include cracking down on militants that launch attacks on Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's security forces deployed to the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Saturday for a law-and-order campaign meant to show the government is laying the ground for statehood.
Palestinian officials have long complained Israel has undercut their forces by launching raids in areas where they are trying to assume responsibility for security.
"There have to be very insistent efforts to make sure that they are not being undermined," Rice told reporters as she flew to the region for separate talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with whom she had dinner on Saturday (May 3).
She also plans to hold trilateral meetings with the top peace negotiators, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qurei of the Palestinians, as well as with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
U.S. President George W. Bush has set an ambitious goal of trying to reach an agreement on a Palestinian state and an end to the six-decade conflict by the end of this year but there has so far been little visible progress in the talks.
At the same time, Washington is trying to improve the lot of Palestinians, whose economic life is stunted by hundreds of Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks on the West Bank.
Israel has so far balked at removing many barriers, arguing they are necessary to prevent suicide bombers. The Palestinians call them collective punishment.
While Rice has repeatedly said the peace talks are making headway, U.S.
officials have also made clear that they would like them to move faster.
U.S. officials are sensitive to the lack of demonstrable progress in the talks and they hope to use a visit by Bush, who will travel to the region this month to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding, to nudge them along.
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