LIVNI 'TERROR STATE' REMARK RUFFLES RICE

Strong stand on Hamas on FM's first trip to Washington

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LIVNI 'TERROR STATE' REMARK RUFFLES RICE
Newly appointed Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni ruffled US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in their first Washington meeting, Wednesday by publicly calling a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority a terrorist entity. 

"When a state is run by terrorists, it becomes a terrorist entity," Livni said alongside Rice at a State Department news conference. Rice did not react to Livni's statement, but an Israeli diplomatic source said that the Secretary of State did not appear "thrilled" with it, according to Ha'aretz.

Since its landslide victory in elections, the radical Islamic group Hamas has categorically rebuffed demands that it recognize Israel's right to exist and to disarm before entering government.

Rice reiterated several times that the new Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel's right to exist. "It simply has to be," Rice said. But turning to the possibility that Israel might carry out further settlement withdrawals in order to unilaterally define its own borders, as indicated by Acting premier Ehud Olmert in a Channel 2 News interview on Tuesday night, Rice remained cold.

"Under no circumstances should anyone try and do that in a preemptive or predetermined way, because these are issues for negotiation at final status," she said.

"We certainly hope that over the next period of time that there will be a partner for Israel to deal with. That is everyone's hope for the roadmap. That depends on what happens in the Palestinian territories," Rice went on to say.

Livni is due to meet US President George W. Bush at the White House on Thursday.