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The Mideast Summit in Annapolis

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The Mideast Summit in Annapolis

Post by shammy on Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:03 am

Nov. 25, 2007

President Bush will host Israeli and Palestinian leaders at a peace conference in Annapolis on Tuesday for what senior administration officials say is a return to negotiations after seven years of calculated U.S. diplomatic distance from the core Middle East conflict.

With the gathering scheduled to last only one day, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other administration officials are emphasizing its symbolic importance, noting that for the first time, the foreign ministers of the 22-member Arab League — including Saudi Arabia — also will be in attendance to demonstrate their support for the revived peace talks.

The conference also could hold major geo-strategic benefits. Taking her cue from the old Arab adage that counsels, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Rice says she is aiming for a comprehensive peace agreement among Israel, the Palestinians and all moderate Sunni Arab nations by the time Bush leaves office in January 2009 so that reconciled Arabs and Jews can form an alliance against their common foe, Shiite Iran.

It is a bold strategy: making resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a mere loose end to be tied up in the formation of a new alliance to contain Iran. For some Middle Eastern experts, it is a commendable way — borne of Iran’s growing influence in the region — to approach a communal conflict that has bedeviled U.S. diplomacy for nearly 60 years. For others, however, Rice’s vision of Israel and Sunni Arab states lining up shoulder-to-shoulder against Iran is yet another administration pipe dream, like its plan to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.

The problem, these skeptics say, is not the ability of Israelis and Arabs to appreciate the new dangers posed by an ascendant Iran. It is the deep divisions within the Israeli and Palestinian camps that have weakened their respective leaders, making it that much harder for them to offer the compromises necessary for any peace agreement or to implement any agreements they do reach.

http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=1&docID=news-000002632548
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Re: The Mideast Summit in Annapolis

Post by shammy on Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:01 am

28/11/07

Bush vows active role in Mideast peace

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush on Wednesday promised Israeli and Palestinian leaders his full support seeking to overcome deep doubts on whether new peace talks can yield a hoped-for accord next year.

"I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't believe that peace was possible, and they wouldn't be here either if they didn't think peace was possible," Bush said with his two guests quietly looking on after White House talks.

"One thing I've assured both gentlemen is that the United States will be actively engaged in the process," Bush pledged. "We will use our power to help you as you come up with the necessary decisions to lay out a Palestinian state that will live side by side in peace with Israel."

Abbas and Olmert -- like Bush, politically weakened -- were to return home to confront sharp skepticism from friends and foes alike over the latest peace drive launched Tuesday at a US-championed conference in Annapolis, Maryland.

"Yesterday was an important day, it was a hopeful beginning. No matter how important yesterday was, it's not nearly as important as tomorrow and the days beyond," said Bush, who stressed the need for global support.

The US president, who called Middle East peace "something we all want," did not invite Abbas or Olmert to speak at the minutes-long event in the White House Rose Garden, and the three leaders did not shake hands.

The muted moment was in sharp contrast to the ebullient 1993 handshake on the nearby South Lawn between then US president Bill Clinton, late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The new peace push won a cautious show of support from the 22-member Arab League, whose chief Amr Mussa cited "misgivings" but warily welcomed the agreement to thaw negotiations frozen for Bush's seven years in office.

"We want to give this opportunity a chance," Mussa said. "During the next two months we will test the Israelis' intentions to see if they are serious, or if this is just another game."

http://www.afp.com/english/news/stories/071128210419.0jzs6qg1.html
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