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MIDDLE EAST: Press conference by Condoleezza Rice

Before leaving on a tour of the Middle East, Condoleezza Rice held a press conference in the White House. It was excellent. She spoke clearly and concisely, and the questions from the news people who crowded the room were good. One questioner asked if Iraq and Afghanistan made sense, since they were both outside creations made with little considerations for ethnic groups. She replied that the modern state is multiethnic and that there would be chaos if the world were reorganized on an ethnic basis. She did not mention proposals to reorganize Europe on that basis, but her argument would apply there. As usual, two critical issues were sidestepped. The spoke of two states, Israel and Palestine, living peacefully side by side, and she made vague references to the territorial issue. She avoided two critical details: linking the Gaza Strip with the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem. Unless these two issues are faced, these endless consultations are just conversation. The second issue was her statement that the US would not tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. As usual, she did not explain how Iran can be expected to live happily in an area where Israel has a monopoly of nuclear weapons.

Ronald Hilton - 6/29/03