Albright Will Visit Middle East Next Month
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 29) -- Madeleine Albright will make her first trip as secretary of state to the Middle East next month, trying to convince Arab and Israeli leaders of the United States' continued commitment to achieving peace in the troubled region.
"The peace process is in trouble," State Department spokesman James Rubin said today in announcing the Sept. 9 trip.
The secretary will be gone for at least a week, and will visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Rubin said no decision has been made on whether the secretary will travel to Lebanon.
Albright will meet with both Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though she is not expected to conduct shuttle diplomacy between the two.
While U.S. diplomatic efforts have focused primarily on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Albright also plans to address other regional issues. Iran, Iraq and the security of the Persian Gulf will also be on her agenda, according to Rubin.
Efforts will also be made to help jump-start Israeli-Syrian peace talks. The secretary hopes to address the issue of terrorism with the Syrian officials, whose country is still on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
While progress toward peace talks is being made, the State Department warns that a major breakthrough cannot be expected on this first trip. "The problems between the two parties are complex, they are deeply entrenched and they will not be solved by one trip," Rubin said.
"She is also a realist and not a magician. She has realistic expectations about what can be achieved," Rubin said.
In preparation for the trip, Albright had spoken by phone with Arafat, Netanyahu, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, other world leaders and members of Congress.
Mideast envoy Dennis Ross will not go to the region before Albright.
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