[dehai-news] (AFP): Rice to tackle Mideast peace, Zimbabwe, Somalia

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 06:06:06 EST

Rice to tackle Mideast peace, Zimbabwe, Somalia


WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to New
York next week for UN talks on Palestinian-Israeli peace, Zimbabwe's crisis
and Somali pirates, her spokesman said Friday.

Rice will visit New York on Monday and Tuesday for "a lot of activities over
at the UN. Topics to be discussed: Middle East, Zimbabwe, Somalia and
pirates," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

He gave no further details.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon will huddle on Monday with Rice, Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana
to discuss the Middle East peace process, officials of the international
body announced earlier.

The United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union make up
the Middle East quartet, which has endorsed a roadmap for a Palestinian
state to coexist peacefully alongside a secure Israel.

But no visible progress has been made on ending the core issues of
Jerusalem, borders, refugees and security between the Palestinians and
Israelis since Rice and President George W. Bush relaunched the negotiations
in Annapolis, Maryland in November 2007 after a seven-year hiatus.

McCormack said Rice hopes that the UN Security Council will work more
forcefully to end the multiple crises in Zimbabwe.

Rice wants President Robert Mugabe to step down from power, a move backed by
Bush and other world leaders. The US blames Mugabe for Zimbabwe's political
deadlock, economic meltdown and humanitarian crisis, including a cholera

"We're in discussions with members of the Security Council as to what the
Security Council as a body might do," McCormack said. "And what we want to
do is to start a process that will bring an end to the tragedy that is
unfolding in Zimbabwe."

The United States is talking to South Africa, seen as having the most
influence with Mugabe, as well as other countries about finding a solution,
McCormack indicated.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, proposed Thursday
that Zimbabwe's neighbors, particularly South Africa, close their borders
with the country so that it yields to international demands.

Rice and her counterparts might also vote on a UN Security Council
resolution aimed at curbing a surge in piracy off the Somali coast.

The United States has circulated a draft resolution allowing to chase
offenders even on Somali soil, diplomats said.

At least 17 ships are currently held by Somali pirates, including an
arms-laden Ukrainian cargo vessel and a Saudi supertanker carrying two
million barrels of crude oil.



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