Rice Returns to Middle East

Secretary of State wants to see 'real progress on the ground'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2008 4:47 PM CDT
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, right, is seen with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, in Jerusalem, Saturday, March 29, 2008.   (AP Photo/GPO, Moshe Milner, HO)
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(Newser) – Condoleezza Rice returned to Jerusalem today to push for progress on Israeli/Palestinian peace talks, al Jazeera reports. Rice says she plans to focus on improving movement through the West Bank. “I would like to see real, concrete progress on the ground,” she said. Palestinians say Israeli checkpoints are choking their economy, but Israel deems the checkpoints necessary to counter terror attacks.

“Obviously, there are security issues but we do have to find ways to improve movement,” said Rice. In addition to meetings with each side, Rice will hold a joint talk with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack, a possible sign of the urgency she places on her second Mideast trip this month. (Read more Palestine stories.)