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Obama's day: Ending war, seeking peace

USA TODAY

Happy September from The Oval, chronicler of all things presidential, including a spanking new Oval Office!

President Obama will “turn the page” today from his dramatic Tuesday night speech announcing the end of combat operations in Iraq to a process that’s more like watching paint dry: making peace in the Middle East.

It won’t be easy, as the terrorist attack that killed four Israeli settlers in the West Bank showed Tuesday. The work was that of a Palestinian gunman; the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, praised the attack.

After a quick check on Hurricane Earl, Obama begins the biggest diplomatic initiative of his presidency with what the diplo world calls a series of “bilaterals” — one-on-one Oval Office meetings with the leaders of Israel and the Palestine Authority, along with fellow watchdogs Egypt and Jordan. Then they all get together for a ceremonial “working dinner” in the Old Family Dining Room.

The guest list includes:

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
  • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II
  • Quartet Representative Tony Blair (the “Quartet” includes the U.S., Russia, European Union and United Nations)

Hovering over the talks and eats will be Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who’s also embarking on her most difficult diplomatic mission, and Middle East special envoy George Mitchell, a wunderkind mediator who engineered peace in Northern Ireland more than a decade ago.

As long as everyone likes the food, they’ll wake up Thursday ready to talk turkey, er, peace. The real negotiating begins at the State Department with a “trilateral” that includes Netanyahu, Abbas and Clinton.

To read more, visit: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/09/obamas-day-ending-war-seeking-peace/1

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