US Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton departs for the Middle East on Saturday for talks on Iraq, Iran's nuclear programme and the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace process, US officials said, dpa reported.
Clinton will travel to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar on the five-day trip. She is to urge the leaders of those countries to work toward stronger relations with Iraq as the tries to reintegrate into the Middle East after years of conflict, a senior State Department official said.
She will explore ways to pressure Iran on its continued defiance of the UN Security Council over its suspected nuclear ambitions to produce atomic weapons, the official said. Iran maintains that its programme is purely for producing energy.
The United States oversaw the resumption of direct Israeli- Palestinian negotiations in September, only for them to fall apart weeks later.
Clinton will be urging the Gulf countries to help booster efforts to get the negotiations back on track.
Clinton will also meet with civic society leaders in the three countries to promote dialogue with the government, State Department officials said.
Clinton plans to attend the Seventh Forum for the Future in Qatar. The forum is designed to exchange ideas on working together to foster progress and expand opportunities for the people of the region.