Georgia crisis could delay Rice's visit

Official also says Russian behavior could set back Kremlin's plan to host Israeli-Palestinian parley.

Rice Livni 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Rice Livni 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Israel is likely to be delayed due to the situation in Georgia, a top State Department official said Friday. "We're going to have to, I think, recalibrate the schedule a little bit," said David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, though he had no further clarification. He stressed, though, that "the fundamental objectives" were not going to change. "The secretary of state will be back to reengage on the Israeli-Palestinian issue soon." Welch also indicated that Russia's behavior in Georgia will also set back the Kremlin's efforts to have another international conference on Palestinian-Israeli peace to follow up on the Annapolis conference held last November. "I think recent events have cast a pall over the international community's willingness to look at ideas that are that far down the road while this kind of behavior is still going on," he said. The idea had been discussed in the framework of the Quartet - the US, UN, EU and Russia. Given international displeasure with Russia's actions, Welch was asked by reporters whether there were plans to kick Russia out of the four-party group. "Not that I'm aware of yet," he answered.