Negroponte here for 'stock-taking' as Bush term ends

Negroponte is scheduled to meet Mossad head Meir Dagan Tuesday morning.

negroponte 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
negroponte 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Israel Monday night for what was described as a "stock-taking visit" before US President George W. Bush hands over the reins to President-elect Barack Obama in some six weeks. One diplomatic official said Negroponte is coming to "take the pulse of the relationship, as the Bush Administration glides out and the new administration moves in. "A lot of initiatives here will continue in one form or the other," the official said. "I don't think there will be any dramatic change in the issues that are currently on the table." The official said that given Negroponte's experience as America's first director of national intelligence, a cabinet-level position responsible for coordinating the US intelligence community, the visit may focus more on intelligence issues. Negroponte held that position from 2005-2007. Negroponte, who also served Bush as ambassador to the UN and as ambassador to Iraq, is scheduled to meet Mossad head Meir Dagan Tuesday morning. He is also scheduled to hold talks with the head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, and with Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi. In addition, during his one full work day here, Negroponte will also meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and President Shimon Peres, and be hosted, along with a number of prominent Israelis, for a dinner Tuesday night at the home of US Ambassador James Cunningham. Negroponte, currently the No. 2 official in the State Department, is not expected to remain at State under the new administration. Some believe his visit indicates that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not be coming back to the region before Bush's term ends on January 20, and that he is here in her stead to "wrap things up" before secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton takes over.