Rice Plans to Discuss Russia, Syria

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite US reaction to the Russian offensive in Georgia, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intends to discuss Moscow's offer to host an international Middle East Conference this fall.

The Russians have pitched the meeting as a follow-up to last year's US-sponsored Annapolis conference, but with Syria playing a much more prominent role.

Rice, who arrived in the region Monday afternoon, will also discuss the Olmert coalition's third-party talks, mediated by Turkey, with the Syrian regime.

Syria's offer to allow Russia to place advanced missile systems on its soil as well as its arms deals with Russia are allegedly not a consideration.

"The two issues are separate," one Turkish official commented.

Rice is also expected to assess the status of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in view of the increasingly unlikely possibility of reaching an agreement before the end of the year.

With Olmert's Kadima party poised to elect a new chairman in three weeks and rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah vying for control, it's a less than ideal climate to produce any kind of an agreement.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (AP image)

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