Rice encouraged by Lebanese gov't consensus

The Lebanese Cabinet's new proposal to end the fighting with Israel is evidence the young democracy can function like a healthy government, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday as she flew back to the Middle East for diplomatic discussions aimed at ending the violence there. "The most important thing that this does for the process is that it shows a Lebanese government that is functioning as a Lebanese government," Rice told reporters traveling with her. "That is in and of itself extremely important." After Rice's arrival in Jerusalem later Saturday, she was expected to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, according to a senior US State Department official who requested anonymity.