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(photo credit: AP [file])
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's assertion that he had forced her to change her vote on a UN Security Council resolution "fiction."
Their ongoing spat centers on whether Rice, in consultation with US President George W. Bush, had decided to abstain from last week's vote on the Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza cease-fire before Olmert reached out to Bush on the matter.
Rice told Bloomberg TV that she and the president had already decided on an abstention, despite the work the US had done on the resolution, because of "the importance of allowing the council to send a signal even though the United States believed that the resolution was premature."
She added, "I had made very clear that I thought the resolution was premature, and there were also concerns about a resolution that had Israel, a member-state of the United Nations, and Hamas, which is a terrorist organization, you don't ever want there to be any equating those two."
Olmert, however, contends Rice was prepared to vote for the resolution before he interrupted Bush in the middle of speech and persuaded him to instruct Rice to abstain.
"I was quite aware of the president's call to Prime Minister Olmert. Of course, Prime Minister Olmert is not at all aware of what the president said to me," Rice countered in her Bloomberg interview. "His rendering of this is fiction - if, in fact, that was his rendering of it. And I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it's not exactly what he said."
Meanwhile, Olmert's aides said Wednesday that the prime minister stood by his claim that his intervention made the US abstain from last Thursday's vote.
They said the prime minister told the story exactly as it happened. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
jpost.com staff contributed to this report