Clinton trip to Mideast

February 26, 2009 7:50:46 PM PST
Officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Egypt, Israel and the West Bank next week to personally take stock of prospects for navigating what the administration hopes will be a "new path" in the Middle East.

The State Department had previously announced that Clinton would attend an 80-nation donors conference in Egypt to make a pledge of some $900 million toward rebuilding the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of its war with Israel.

The Hamas Islamic movement, which rules Gaza, has put its damage figure from the Israel assault at $2.73 billion.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood says Clinton will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when she visits the West Bank.

Clinton will be in Israel at an awkward time. A caretaker government is awaiting efforts by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to put together a governing coalition. He may have to forge a coalition with nationalist and religious parties opposed to peacemaking with the Palestinians and Israel's other Arab neighbors.

Clinton's trip begins Sunday.

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