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Gingrich, Gephardt To Visit Israel

By Ann Curley/CNN

WASHINGTON (May 11) -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt will lead a congressional delegation to visit Israel at the end of May.

"At this critical time in the peace process, Speaker Gingrich feels it is critical to see the situation firsthand," said Gingrich spokesman Andrew Weinstein.

Gingrich also hopes to stop in Italy and meet Pope John Paul, although those plans are not yet confirmed.

Gingrich has been highly critical of President Bill Clinton's Middle East peace efforts, sending a letter to the president imploring him to reevaluate U.S. policy toward Israel.

In the letter, Gingrich said Israel "must be able to decide her own security needs and set her own conditions for negotiation without facing coercion from the U.S."

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