WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is traveling to New York Tuesday to meet with Arab ministers and lobby for a U.S.-backed cease-fire plan for Gaza, a senior State Department official said.
Rice is also expected to represent the Bush administration during a U.N. Security Council meeting on efforts to bring an end to the Israeli army's occupation of the Gaza strip and the deluge of missiles launched by Hamas at Israeli towns.
According to the State official, Rice will meet with U.S. allies and several foreign ministers from Arab states to push a three-pronged U.S. strategy to curb rocket attacks, halt the fighting and secure border crossings. Rice plans to discuss the situation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the foreign minister of Turkey and others arriving at the U.N.
The State official spoke anonymously because of the Rice's travel plans have not yet officially been made public.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and the foreign ministers of Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco planned meetings with envoys from other Arab nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council members.
Rice will be talking up a U.S. proposal aimed at achieving a lasting halt to Hamas rocket attacks that have pinpointed southern Israeli towns. The American plan would also limit a network of tunnels that have been used by Hamas to smuggle in weapons and contraband, and would also contain a third proposal pressed by Hamas — reopening crossing points on the Israeli border that have been restricted and often closed by Israeli soldiers.
On Monday, President Bush said that the violence in Gaza must stop, "but not at the expense of an agreement that does not prevent the crisis from happening again."
More than 500 Palestinians, including at least 100 civilians, have been killed in the fighting and during Israeli bombing runs. Hamas rockets and combat inside Gaza have killed at least nine Israelis.
After attending the 5 p.m. Security Council meeting, Rice plans to remain overnight in New York and return Wednesday, the official said.
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