US – Mideast: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he and U.S. President George Bush have agreed to boycott the emerging Palestinian unity government if it does not meet international demands.
Mr. Olmert says there will be no cooperation with any Palestinian government unless it renounces violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and honors previous peace deals. Mr. Olmert said today (Sunday) he and Mr. Bush agreed on that position in a phone call Friday.
U.S. officials have yet to respond to Mr. Olmert's comments. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday that Washington will reserve judgment on the Palestinian government until it is formed.
Rice is to have talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today (Sunday), followed by a meeting with Mr. Olmert in Jerusalem.
Secretary Rice is scheduled to hold a three-way meeting with both leaders Monday in Jerusalem for talks on a U.S. initiative to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Iran – Syria: Visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have pledged to work together against what they call U.S. and Israeli efforts to divide Muslims.
Mr. Assad is in Tehran on a two-day visit, his second since President Ahmadinejad took office. The Iranian news agency says the two leaders warned of what they called the sinister aims of the U.S. and Israel to create conflict and division between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.
Mr. Assad is scheduled to meet Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, today (Sunday.)
The United States has accused Syria and Iran of meddling in the affairs of Lebanon and Iraq. The U.S. says the two countries have allowed insurgents to cross their borders into Iraq, a charge Syria and Iran deny.
US – Iraq Vote: Republicans in the U.S. Senate have blocked debate on a non-binding resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq.
Seven Republicans joined 49 Democrats in voting to allow debate, but that was four votes short of the 60 required.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (of Nevada) said the vote still shows a bipartisan majority in the Senate is against what Reid called the president's flawed plan to escalate the Iraq war.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (of Kentucky) called the resolution nonsensical, saying it asserts support of U.S. troops while disapproving of their mission.
But Republican John Warner (of Virginia), a co-sponsor of the resolution, said it expressed only disapproval of the president sending more U.S. troops to diffuse Iraq's internal conflict. The White House said the Senate debate had given "the world a glimpse of democracy's vigor."
Iraq: A U.S. newspaper says documents captured from Iraqi insurgents show that militants have a carefully planned strategy of shooting down coalition aircraft in Iraq.
"The New York Times" reports today (Sunday) that some of the recent downings of American helicopters in Iraq are part of the insurgent plan to "concentrate" on anti-aircraft attacks.
The paper quotes unnamed U.S. officials as saying they learned of the strategy from documents seized near Baghdad that were allegedly written by al-Qaida in Iraq.
The officials say the documents contain plans for attacking aircraft using machine guns, rockets and surface-to-air missiles.
The paper quotes the U.S. officials as saying attacks on coalition aircraft are likely to increase as American forces expand their efforts to secure Baghdad.
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