US lowers expectations of PM visit

NSA Hadley: There will be no maps and no exchange of letters.

By NATHAN GUTTMAN
May 15, 2006 23:57
1 minute read.
US lowers expectations of PM visit

stephen hadley 298 88ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

US President George W. Bush will not discuss with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the details of his convergence plan when he meets him next week, but would rather prefer to allow him to outline his vision. "There will be no maps and there will be no exchange of letters," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told a group of Jewish leaders Monday, according to sources who were at the meeting. Representatives of Israel and of the American Jewish community met Monday with senior administration officials to discuss Olmert's upcoming visit. Jewish leaders from all major organizations and from a wide political spectrum took part in the White House meeting. National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones confirmed that the meeting took place, but would not provide any details regarding its content. A team of Olmert's advisers, headed by his chief of staff Yoram Turbowitz and Dov Weisglass, also met with Hadley and with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss the details of the visit. In what is seen as an attempt to lower expectations, the senior administration officials told Jewish leaders the purpose of the meeting was simply "to get to know Olmert." They stressed that it was now important to build a relationship with him and learn his thoughts for the US to keep up its support for Israel. Hadley and his deputy, Elliott Abrams, told the Jewish leaders that any discussion about the details of Olmert's convergence plan would be premature and that it was "only the beginning of the conversation" about Israel's future plans. While the US remains vague in its approach to convergence, the officials were very clear regarding America's refusal to fund salaries for Palestinian Authority employees. Hadley and Abrams said that the US was firm in its belief that while the international community should provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians, it should not fund the PA salaries. The issue of providing extra aid to Israel to finance the convergence plan was not raised in the preparatory talks, and according to both Israeli and American sources, this issue is off the table for now and will not be raised during Olmert's visit.


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