Rice meets Livni


Ramallah : U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday a U.S.-led push for Israeli-Palestinian peace had a “reasonable chance of success” as both sides sparred over a planned Middle East conference.
Rice wrapped up four days of shuttle diplomacy with no sign of a breakthrough or an announcement of a final date for the international gathering that Washington sees as the most serious step towards Palestinian statehood in years.

Support TwoCircles

Speaking alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem, Rice said the conference must address the core issues, which include the fate of the holy city and which have proved the biggest stumbling blocs in the past.

“I don’t expect anyone to attend at any cost including us. This is a meeting that is to be serious, substantive that allows the parties to address the outstanding issues between them, including the core issues,” she said.

Rice pledged the meeting, planned for November or December in Annapolis, Maryland, would be substantive and said: “I don’t expect anybody to attend at any cost, including us.” Livni, who heads Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s negotiating team, said Israel wanted “to reach understanding on the widest possible common ground in the time available”.

Asked about Palestinian accusations the Israeli negotiating team was not serious about the talks, Livni replied: “I am not going to participate in this blame game.” She said Israel was prepared to compromise, but did not say how, adding she hoped the Palestinians would compromise too.

“The idea is not to raise expectations that can lead to frustration and to violence, because we need to learn from past experience,” she said. Violence surged after Israeli and Palestinian peace talks broke off in 2000.