US denies Olmert's words over UN vote change

Arab ministers said after the U.N. vote Thursday that Rice had promised them the United States would support the resolution.

US denies Olmert's words over UN vote change
The White House on Tuesday denied reports that a telephone call by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to President George W. Bush forced Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to abstain in a U.N. vote on the Gaza war.

In a speech late on Monday, Olmert said Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, was left "pretty shamed" at the vote and had to abstain on a resolution she had helped arrange.

When we saw that Rice, for reasons we did not really understand, wanted to vote in favour of the resolution ... I looked for President Bush," Olmert said.

Bush, who Olmert said was taken off a stage in Philadelphia where he was making a speech, said he was not informed on the resolution and was "not familiar with the phrasing".

"I'm familiar with it. You can't vote in favour." Olmert claimed telling the US president.

"He [Bush] gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it, a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and manoeuvred for," Olmert said.

Bush was in Philadelphia on Thursday morning and gave a 27-minute speech on education policy that ended about 10 hours before the UN vote and there was no interruption of the public event.

The Israeli prime minister described Bush as an "unparalleled friend" of Israel.

"I've seen these press reports, they are inaccurate," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

Arab ministers said after the U.N. vote Thursday that Rice had promised them the United States would support the resolution, but then made an apparent about-face after talking to Bush.

A few minutes before the scheduled vote at the United Nations, Rice's staff told reporters she would make a few brief comments beforehand, but then abruptly canceled her press appearance, saying she would instead speak to Bush by phone.

The vote was delayed while other ministers waited for Rice to finish the call. She then entered the U.N. Security Council chamber, huddled with Arab ministers who shook their heads as she spoke to them.

Immediately after the vote, Rice left for Washington without talking to waiting reporters. Her spokesman did not return repeated calls and e-mail over why Rice had reneged on her promise to Arab leaders to back the vote.

Rice joined her French and British ministers in drawing up the resolution and the three Western powers haggled with Arab countries for three days over wording, which Rice told the U.N. Security Council.

Fourteen of the security council's 15 members supported the legally binding resolution, which has until now failed to stop Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2009, 12:44
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