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Sunday, 19 September. 2021
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The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

VIENNA, Austria: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, her Israeli counterpart and others gather in Vienna on Thursday for a high-level conference focused on women's peace efforts in the Middle East.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external relations commissioner, will also attend the meeting hosted by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik. Other participants include Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, outgoing president of the U.N. General Assembly.

On the eve of the conference, Sheikha Haya said she hoped it would encourage other women to become decision-makers.

"We think that (with) this kind of meeting, we can give them examples," she told reporters Wednesday.

Rice also was to address the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and meet with members of the Women's Empowerment Network, an initiative that unites female foreign ministers and presidents from around the globe.

Participants were to meet behind closed doors for a round-table discussion titled "Women Leaders — Networking for Peace and Security in the Middle East."

Plassnik said they had no illusions about the problems in the volatile region and would not shy away from talking frankly about its "open wounds."

"We have no illusions about the obstacles still facing us, nor about the urgency for action," Plassnik said in a statement. "We will not let ourselves be discouraged."

Rice arrives in Vienna from Berlin, where she met with her German and Russian counterparts and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the recent escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and parts of Lebanon.

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