It was Condoleeza Rice, the president's national security adviser, who delivered in the White House press room the news reporters had been expecting about the scheduled presidential mission to the Middle East. What reporters hadn't expected was President Bush's plans first to visit Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenaw in Poland-"to honor the memory of the innocents lost in the terror of the Third Reich and the Holocaust, and to serve to remind all of us of the dangers of evil unchecked."
The Middle East diplomatic mission included scheduled meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Bahrain's King Hamad, Moroccan King Mohammed VI, and Jordan's King Abdullah. Also on the agenda: meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen.
Pointedly off the agenda: Yasser Arafat. President Bush has never met with Mr. Arafat and he is very purposefully snubbing Mr. Arafat now. The White House wants to send the message to rank-and-file Palestinians and to the rest of the world community that Mr. Arafat's day of supporting terror and breaking promises is over. President Bush is betting instead that the new Palestinian prime minister is willing and able to crack down on terror, and make peace with Israel.