US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived for her first Middle East visit since taking office. She will meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today and the new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow. She comes at a time of diminishing violence and growing momentum in the peace process, capped by a Sharon-Abbas summit in Egypt on Tuesday. Israel sees Rice as a true friend, while the Palestinians believe she's too pro-Israel. But both sides are welcoming a stepped up US mediation role to jumpstart the “roadmap” peace plan.
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