On the Plane

Rice Enters Diplomatic Busy Season

There won't be much down-time for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the long pre-Christmas shopping season.

In a combination of legacy-building and crisis diplomacy, the chief diplomat for the United States will be clocking a lot of miles between now and the end of the year, with several visits planned to Israel and the Palestinian territories, among other conflict-ridden places. The goal? Making at least some progress in peace talks before the rapidly-approaching end of the Bush administration.

In December, Rice is likely to travel to China to push along another possible legacy issue--resolving the nuclear weapons dispute with North Korea.

In the meantime, there are lots of other fires to put out, some of which came up last night as Rice flew with reporters to Turkey for meetings in Ankara, where she will to balance support for Turkey's concerns about Iraqi-based Kurdish militants with a warning to the Turkish government not to try to solve the problem by invading Iraq.

"We have a common enemy" in the terrorist-designated PKK, Rice said at the beginning of a bumpy trans-Atlantic ride. But anything that would destabilize the border area, she said, "is not going to be in Turkey's interest, it's not going to be in our interest, it's not going to be in the Iraqi's interest."

The administration has been "urging restraint" on Turkey, and officials there are looking to her visit to provide more concrete assistance.

What about Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf is thinking about declaring martial law?

"Quite obvious" that the United States would not support such a move, Rice said.

In the Middle East, where she will stop at the end of her Turkey trip, Rice is fighting an uphill battle to persuade Israelis and Palestinians to take substantive steps toward peace-making before a conference she has scheduled in Annapolis later this month as a showcase for U.S. efforts.

Whatever the problems overseas, however, Rice may welcome a chance to be away from home, where she faces criticism on everything from Blackwater contractors to her decision to order diplomats to Iraq to State Department morale.

The secretary seemed weary but determined last night as she parried questions on all these topics before retiring to her cabin in the front of the plane.

The high point of the flight, pointed out by Rice aides, was evidence of a new chef for on-board meals -- a supper of pork tenderloin with sun-dried tomatoes, salad with walnuts and feta cheese, and homemade raspberry cheesecake.

Fortification for a long and, likely, difficult trip.

-- Karen DeYoung

Also by DeYoung: Turkish Foreign Minister Wants U.S. Action Against Kurdish Rebels

By washingtonpost.com Editors |  November 2, 2007; 10:04 AM ET  | Trip:  Rice in Turkey, Israel and Palestinian Territories, Nov. 2007
Previous: Rice's Diplomatic 'No Spin' Zone? | Next: Flying to Israel, Wondering About New Hampshire


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One wonders how the we can urge restraint by Turkey when the Vice President tells the world that if there is a 1 per cent chance of something happing to the US we should treat it as if there was a 100 per cent certainty. I understand why we don't want Turkey to respond to such treats or actions but it seems there's a distinct double standard we want them to adhear to. This won't be an easy challenge for the Secretary of State.

Posted by: Washington observer | November 2, 2007 12:56 PM

I don't think that the current Secretary of State is very good at the job.
Starting as NSC advisor, it appeared that she pretty much flubbed everything she tried.
But at least she tried.

Her predecessor at State,
and the pompous America-haters in more senior positions in this government -
referring to two particular arguments in favor of abortion -
aren't even thinking about what's best for the world, or even this country.

Is she a failure as Secretary ?

Admittedly, she hasn't accomplished much visible to the ordinary citizen.

But if it is her influence that has stayed the invasions of Syria and Iran,
and moderated US support for Israeli genocide against the Philistines,
then she is head and shoulders above Colin Powell.

Posted by: Brian | November 2, 2007 2:15 PM

Rice is only human and all these diplomatic problems seem to be overwhelming. Where does she go for help and how much does she rely on it?

Posted by: cjjoy | November 3, 2007 6:49 AM

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