Rice could meet eight Arab counterparts in Cairo

Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa
Published: Friday September 29, 2006

Washington- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet up to eight Arab foreign ministers in Cairo during her trip to the Middle East next week to explore ways of restarting peace efforts in the region, her spokesman said Friday. The trip follows up on US President George W Bush's pledge in a UN General Assembly speech last week to resume US diplomacy in the region.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Israeli- Palestinian issue is not the "sole focus of her trip," which will also address issues ranging from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq to Iran.

He hinted that while Rice is in Egypt, there may be some additional meetings, but the State Department was not "quite ready to talk about those meetings."

"There is an opportunity here to try to turn goodwill and hope into concrete actions," McCormack said. "I think that there is a genuine will among the countries of the region to try to move forward on a number of different issues, including the Israeli- Palestinian issue."

Rice will not be talking to Hamas, the Islamic militant movement that won Palestinian elections this year, he said Thursday.

Rice plans to leave Washington for the region on Sunday. Further trip details were not immediately released. She plans to hold talks in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, spokesman Sean McCormack said.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa