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Rice Departs For Middle East --> Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (file photo) (RFE/RL) 10 November 2005 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due today to depart Washington for an official visit to the Middle East.

Rice is due to arrive in Bahrain on Friday for talks among industrialized countries and Arab countries to encourage political and economic reforms in the region.

Rice will then head to Saudi Arabia, where she is expected to pressure the kingdom to allow greater religious freedom and introduce more democratic changes.

On 13 November, Rice is due to travel to Israel and later the West Bank. U.S. officials say she will press the Palestinian Authority to do more to crack down on militant groups and urge Israel to halt new settlement activity on the West Bank and remove illegal outposts.

Rice is then due to join U.S. President George W. Bush in Asia for stops in China and Mongolia. They are also scheduled to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in South Korea.


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