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Daily Archives: June 17, 2008

Rice holds three-way Mideast talks

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held talks yesterday with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, on the final day of her trip to the Middle East.
Rice also held one-on-one talks ahead with Barak ahead of the meeting which wraps up her two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The talks were expected to focus in part on Israeli restrictions on movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, where the army maintains more than 600 roadblocks.
On Sunday, Rice spoke out against continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, one of the thorniest issues in efforts to reach a peace accord.
"It's June. I expect that people are going to work harder and harder," she said on Sunday.

EU ministers see no quick-fix after Irish reject treaty

EU foreign ministers yesterday sifted through the wreckage of the bloc's Lisbon Treaty, admitting there were no quick fixes after its rejection by Irish voters plunged the bloc into crisis.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, warned against any hasty bid to save the treaty of reforms designed to streamline the EU's creaking institutions.
“It is time for a little bit of thinking and analysis," he said, as he arrived to chair the talks in Luxembourg.
"It would be risky to say we are going to bring the treaty back to life when we are facing a blockade," he added.
All eyes were on Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin, who also warned against a quick fix.
"Obviously we're disappointed," he told reporters on arrival.
But "it's far to early in our view to start coming up with solutions."
Martin said that the first step should be a "comprehensive analysis" of the Irish verdict.
Irish voters, the only ones in Europe obliged to hold a referendum, delivered a resounding "no" to the European Union's reform treaty by 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent on Thursday, plunging the 27-member bloc into a new period of institutional uncertainty.
The treaty has to be ratified by all member states in order to enter into force.
Yesterday's meeting kicked off a week of European crisis-management which will culminate in a summit of EU heads of state and government in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
While both are regular meetings with full agendas, the Irish vote will dominate discussion as the Lisbon Treaty had been due to be ratified by all states by January, an increasingly unlikely prospect.
The Irish vote was the third referendum blow in three years to EU plans to make its bureaucracy function smoothly.
In 2005 French and Dutch voters rejected the original EU constitution project, a fact which led to the painstaking drawing up of the Lisbon Treaty.
The bloc could now be left limping along with the Nice Treaty; the inadequate rule book that was signed in 2001 so that the EU could grow but which contained no deeper reform to streamline the system once it had.
Since the Irish referendum results were announced, most EU leaders have insisted that ratification should continue in the eight nations that have not yet endorsed the treaty.
One of those is Britain, and London has vowed to push ahead this week with the treaty's final reading in the upper house of parliament.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also called for calm heads to prevail.
"I'm very strongly of the view that it's important that we respond in a calm way, a respectful way, and in a way which gives the Irish government space to come to terms with this decision in the referendum and to decide on their next course of action," he said as he arrived.
However Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country also still has to ratify the text, has already said that Lisbon treaty is a dead letter.
France's European affairs minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet, in the French Le Figaro daily, said yesterday he hoped the ratification process would continue.
"I don't think that one can say the Lisbon Treaty is dead," he said.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also promised that "we will solve the problem" while adding "I don't know how we'll solve it practically".
He admitted it would be an "intensive week" culminating in the EU summit.
The Lisbon Treaty, signed last December in Portugal, would give the EU more majority voting rather than the difficult-to-achieve unanimity required now.
It would also introduce a European Council president for a two-and-a-half year term and a new stronger foreign policy supremo.