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Rice postpones trip to Israel and West Bank

world Updated: May 08, 2007 15:03 IST

IANS
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US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has postponed a trip this month to Israel and the West Bank because of the political turmoil surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, says the US State Department.

Rice had planned to stop in Israel and the West Bank as part of a May 14-15 trip to Moscow. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says she has not ruled out other stops in the Middle East but will not head to Israel or the Palestinian territories.

Olmert has been under intense pressure to resign after a commission released a report April 30, harshly criticising his government's handling of the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon last summer.

"The political situation in Israel has become a bit more complex in the near term," McCormack adds.

Rice was to meet with Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to follow up on a proposal submitted to both sides last month outlining benchmarks on security and economic cooperation aimed at jump-starting the peace process.

The postponement of Rice's trip "should in no way denote any lessening of our focus on the issue and our determination to help the two parties move the process forward", McCormack adds.

Olmert's government survived three no-confidence motions in the Knesset on Monday.