Mideast Peace Talks End, No Progress

In the Middle East, more posing and posturing. But little progress…

(CBS/AP) Talks between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, initially billed as a new U.S. push to restart peace efforts, ended Monday with little progress other than a commitment to meet again.

In a 90-second statement following the two-hour meeting, Rice said that the two sides exchanged views of the political future and agreed to hold another summit.

CBS News correspondent Robert Berger said expectations were low as Rice met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Rice said peace efforts were complicated after Abbas joined a Palestinian unity government with Hamas, a group that seeks Israel’s destruction.

Neither Abbas nor Olmert joined Rice as she delivered her statement, and she left the room without taking questions from reporters. Israeli and Palestinian officials were not immediately available for comment.

Little progress was expected by the meeting, which was beset by U.S. and Israeli dissatisfaction with the Palestinian power-sharing deal. It got off to a lackluster start, with Rice, Abbas and Olmert clasping hands together and flashing polite smiles for the cameras in an unadorned hotel conference room.

The three met without any aides, except for Rice’s Arabic interpreter, officials said. After about an hour, they moved to Rice’s suite overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City, continuing talks for another hour in a more comfortable setting.

The three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the internationally backed “road map” peace plan and agreed that a solution to the conflict will not be “born of violence,” Rice said.

“The president and prime minister agreed that they would meet together again soon. They reiterated their desire for American participation and leadership to overcome obstacles, rally regional and international support and move forward toward peace. In that vein, I expect to return to the region soon,” Rice said after the meeting.
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