US 'referee' Jones here for talks

Defense officials: Former general and new envoy a "professional" who can be counted on.

gen james jones 224 88 (photo credit: NATO [file])
gen james jones 224 88
(photo credit: NATO [file])
Senior defense officials were upbeat about scheduled meetings in Tel Aviv Tuesday with James Jones, the former marine general tabbed to be the referee of whether Israel and the Palestinians have implemented their road map obligations. Jones arrived late Monday night for his first visit to the area since US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed him Special Envoy for Middle East Security shortly after the Annapolis conference last month. Jones met Monday in Paris with Palestinian officials, and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and other top security officials during a 24-hour visit on Tuesday. Senior Defense officials said Jones was a "professional" who could be counted on to look at the intelligence material and draw the proper conclusions. Jones was NATO's top military commander from 2003 to 2005. Diplomatic officials said that unlike Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the US official charged with helping the PA build its security forces, Jones will not be stationed here, but will come and go periodically. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report