Upcoming Middle East peace talks may force US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to cancel what is likely to be her last trip to Asia while in office, State Department officials said Monday.
Albright is still scheduled to attend this weekend's Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC) foreign ministers meeting in Brunei but plans for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to come to Washington on Sunday are likely to scuttle the trip, they said.
"No decision has been made on the secretary's travel, but it's looking more and more like APEC won't be on the itinerary," said one senior official.
The official noted that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is due in Washington on Thursday for talks with President Bill Clinton at the White House, and that because Albright will participate in those talks, she would not skip the Barak meeting to go to APEC.
The ministerial meeting, a precursor to next week's APEC summit, is set for Sunday and Monday and if Albright does not attend, the United States will likely be represented by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, the official said.
Albright does not plan to accompany Clinton to either the summit or his follow-on stop in Vietnam, and the APEC ministerial meeting is her last scheduled trip to Asia before she leaves office with the change of administration in January, the official said – WASHINGTON (AFP)
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