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Rice Headed to Middle East for Talks on Israel-Hezbollah Conflict


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in Israel on Monday for the start of a round of talks focused on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

Rice plans to meet in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. On Sunday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, told Fox News Rice is going to the region to convince others a long-term solution that addresses the root causes of the violence is needed. Rice has said there should be a ceasefire in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict as soon as possible but not until, in her words, "conditions are conducive" for one.

She will travel to Rome on Wednesday for talks on the crisis with European and Arab officials. U.N. officials are expected to participate in the one-day meeting.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia asked President Bush to support calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Lebanon crisis. Speaking after a meeting in Washington with Mr. Bush and Rice, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the primary concern is protecting Lebanon's sovereignty. He said President Bush is well aware of the toll the conflict is taking on the Lebanese people.

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