From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Dec 16 2008 - 05:22:56 EST
UN hosts Bush effort on Mideast, Somalia, Zimbabwe
The Associated Press
Published: December 16, 2008
NATIONS: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a two-day effort to
firm up her boss' imprint on the Mideast peace process and to press for
tougher measures in several African hotspots during a final visit to U.N.
The trip starting Monday by the top U.S. diplomat - which comes just 36 days
before the books close on President George W. Bush's foreign policy record -
includes a session with the diplomatic quartet of Mideast peacemakers.
Rice also was meeting with U.N. Security Council members on Zimbabwe,
Somalia and the Middle East.
Rice and British Foreign Minister David Miliband huddled behind closed doors
Monday afternoon with the 15-nation council to hear U.N. Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon discuss the political crisis and cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe.
South Africa has been blocking a U.S.-sought statement censuring President
Robert Mugabe over the burgeoning health crisis.
"Of course this is spilling over into neighboring states," Miliband said.
"The disease that has had the headlines is cholera, but the disease that is
at the heart ... is the disease of misrule and corruption."
The World Health Organization reported Monday that the death toll from a
cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has risen to 978, an increase of nearly 25
percent in three days. The total number of suspected cases reported there is
up to 18,413 since the start of the outbreak in August because of a
breakdown in health care and contaminated water supplies. Only Friday there
had been 16,700 reported cases.
Rice and Ban also met with the other two members of the Mideast Quartet:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and European Union foreign policy
chief Javier Solana. They have called for establishing an independent
Palestinian state that coexists with Israel.
Bush's goal for a political settlement by the end of this year won't be
achieved, Rice told reporters after the hourlong Quartet meeting. But, she
added, "This is the first time in almost a decade that Palestinians (and)
Israelis are addressing all of the core issues to try to get to a
"It is really only possible to get to peace by dealing with all the core
issues," she said.
The council had met in emergency session Saturday to receive a U.S.
resolution backing the Quartet's effort. Despite some lingering reservations
from Libya and South Africa, the resolution - which would be the council's
first major resolution on the Middle East in five years - was expected to be
approved on Tuesday.
"They will vote for sure," said Libyan Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi. "As
usual, there will be very general declarations repeating what they have said
The U.S. text calls on Israelis and Palestinians "to fulfill their
obligations" from talks begun in Annapolis, Maryland, last year, and for all
nations and international groups "to contribute to an atmosphere conducive
It also reiterates the "vision of a region where two democratic states,
Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and
Rice's visit also was to include a farewell dinner for her Monday night
hosted by Ban.
On Tuesday, Rice will press the United Nations to pass a resolution that
would authorize "all necessary measures" against piracy from Somalia,
including hunting pirates ashore, despite the commander of the U.S. Navy's
5th Fleet expressing doubt Friday about the wisdom of launching attacks
against Somali pirates on land.
Some of the 15-nation council's members also have expressed reservations.
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, one of the council's five permanent members
with veto power, told reporters Monday his nation wants "increased
international cooperation to fight against piracy, but on the other hand we
would also like to emphasize that the political process ... must be handled
The other veto-wielding members are the U.S., Russia, Britain and France.
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