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Monday, October 15, 2007

Annapolis conference mugging to be 'postponed'?

Buried in a preview of Condoleeza Rice's meeting this morning with 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen in Ramallah is this tip about just how poorly Condi's day in Jerusalem went yesterday.
After Rice's first series of meetings Sunday, a senior US State Department official hinted that the date could slide.

"This is going to take some time," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity to describe the private conversations. "This is going to require a lot of hands-on American diplomacy. These are really tough issues."

Rice cautioned against expecting breakthroughs during her four days of talks, punctuated by a trip to Cairo and followed by talks in London with the king of Jordan.

Olmert also appeared to scale back hopes for broad agreement in advance of the conference.

Olmert told his Cabinet on Sunday that he did not believe the joint statement was a prerequisite for the conference. He repeated that in his two-hour-plus meeting with Rice, according to his office.

The goal, Olmert said, "is to arrive at a joint statement during the international conference, even though the existence of such a statement was never a condition for holding this conference."

But the acting Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, said his side would skip the conference without agreement on a statement.

"Without a document to resolve this conflict, we can't go to the conference next month," he said. "Olmert is looking for a public relations conference and one that will allow normalization with Arab countries. We will not help him in this."
Looks like Condi needs more time to soften up the Israelis before they can be mugged. But Olmert isn't too likely to soften if the consequences include the fall of his government. And Condi doesn't have forever to play around with this.


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