Biden to make Mideast tour early March

WASHINGTON- US Vice President Joe Biden will tour the Middle East in early March with stops in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Jordan, the White House said Monday.
Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah, his office said.

US Vice President Joe Biden
US Vice President Joe Biden
"During the trip, the vice president will discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues," according to the White House statement.
No other details were provided on Biden's tour, which comes as the administration of President Barack Obama struggles to revive peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians more than a year after he took office.
US allies Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab neighbors of Israel to have signed peace agreements with the Jewish state, and have in the past played the role of mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.
Obama's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the Qatari capital Doha, said Monday she is hopeful that "serious" negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will begin this year.
A day earlier in a speech to the US-Islamic World Forum, Clinton said she was "disappointed" by the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but added that the United States could not impose a solution.
The announcement of Biden's trip also comes amid rising diplomatic heat over Iran's controversial nuclear program.
Clinton, while in the Middle East, sought to rally support for tough new UN sanctions against Tehran, as she warned Iran was turning into a "military dictatorship" bent on building a nuclear bomb.
Iran, which denies seeking atomic weapons, said Monday it was considering a new proposal from the major powers for the supply of nuclear fuel, but the United States, France and Russia all denied any such offer had been made.

Tuesday, February 16th 2010

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