Rice: Arab League plan is a position, not a basis for talks

Denies holding conversations with Arab League members on how document could be modified to be more 'palatable' to Israel.

rice 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
rice 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Amid the reemergence of the 2002 Saudi peace initiative ahead of the Arab League meeting at the end of this month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice characterized the document as putting forward the Arab position rather than as a basis for negotiations. She denied having conversations with League members about how the document could be modified to be more palatable to Israelis. "I have not talked to people about modification," she said at a brief press conference with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni following their meeting Wednesday. "I think it's a favorable thing that they are putting forward something, but [the initiative] is not a negotiating position as I understand it, but rather a framework, a vision for how Israel and the Arabs might reconcile." The document calls for normalized relations between Israel and the entire Arab world in exchange for a full return to the pre-1967 armistice lines and various other Israeli concessions. Livni noted that Israel has "said that some parts of this initiative are, of course, positive, talking about reconciliation, normalization and such," while other parts, such as those referring to Palestinian refugees returning to Israel "as we see it are against the concept of the two-state solution." She also repeated her call for the Arab states to normalize relations, made Monday at the AIPAC policy conference, even before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved, to boost Palestinian moderates. Livni indicated that although her meeting with Rice came at the end of her four-day visit to the United States, their conversation was "to be continued," since they would be meeting again in 10 days when she will play host to Rice. During her trip, Livni also met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York and with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay in Ottawa.