Israel’s prime minister has urged the US secretary of state to keep Hamas “out of the game” while Israel explores new co-operation with the Palestinians. At their first meeting since militants wrested control of Gaza, Ehud Olmert and Condoleezza Rice discussed the possibility of handing over some security control in the occupied West Bank to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This would only happen if adequate anti-terror guarantees were received said Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni: “We are not going to miss the opportunity to promote dialogue with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian government, a dialogue that can represent the widest common denominator between Israel and the Palestinians with of course a significant political substance.”
Rice will meet Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad later today in the West Bank city of Ramallah. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, meanwhile, visited US troops in Kuwait, a stopping-off point on their way to serve Iraq. He also held talks with the Kuwaiti Royal Family, with the aim of reinforcing military co-operation in the region.