Rice to tackle Mideast peace, Zimbabwe, Somalia
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to New York next week for UN talks on Palestinian-Israeli peace, Zimbabwe's crisis and Somali pirates, her spokesman said Friday.
Rice will visit New York on Monday and Tuesday for "a lot of activities over at the UN. Topics to be discussed: Middle East, Zimbabwe, Somalia and pirates," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
He gave no further details, AFP reported.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon will huddle on Monday with Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss the Middle East peace process, officials of the international body announced earlier.
The United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union make up the Middle East quartet, which has endorsed a roadmap for a Palestinian state to coexist peacefully alongside a secure Israel.
But no visible progress has been made on ending the core issues of Jerusalem, borders, refugees and security between the Palestinians and Israelis since Rice and President George W. Bush relaunched the negotiations in Annapolis, Maryland in November 2007 after a seven-year hiatus.
McCormack said Rice hopes that the UN Security Council will work more forcefully to end the multiple crises in Zimbabwe.
Rice wants President Robert Mugabe to step down from power, a move backed by Bush and other world leaders. The US blames Mugabe for Zimbabwe's political deadlock, economic meltdown and humanitarian crisis, including a cholera outbreak.
"We're in discussions with members of the Security Council as to what the Security Council as a body might do," McCormack said. "And what we want to do is to start a process that will bring an end to the tragedy that is unfolding in Zimbabwe."
The United States is talking to South Africa, seen as having the most influence with Mugabe, as well as other countries about finding a solution, McCormack indicated.
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, proposed Thursday that Zimbabwe's neighbors, particularly South Africa, close their borders with the country so that it yields to international demands.
Rice and her counterparts might also vote on a UN Security Council resolution aimed at curbing a surge in piracy off the Somali coast.
The United States has circulated a draft resolution allowing to chase offenders even on Somali soil, diplomats said.
At least 17 ships are currently held by Somali pirates, including an arms-laden Ukrainian cargo vessel and a Saudi supertanker carrying two million barrels of crude oil.