Rice cancels trip to Asia, Australia

Decision indicates that US officials believe Sharon unlikely to recover.

condy rice 88 (photo credit: )
condy rice 88
(photo credit: )
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled a six-day trip to Indonesia and Australia on Friday, amid uncertainty over the condition of ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "She decided because of the situation in the Middle East, it was the right decision to stay here in Washington," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. Rice had planned to leave Saturday. If Sharon were to die, Rice would probably attend the funeral in Jerusalem, although McCormack did not mention that possibility. US officials have been careful not to publicly predict that Sharon will not return to power. Rice's travel decision is the clearest sign yet that US officials consider his recovery unlikely. Rice spoke by phone Friday morning with Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, McCormack said. It was their first conversation since Sharon's health crisis.