US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice politely slammed former United States President Jimmy Carter on Friday, who against the strong urging of her senior advisors to abandon the idea, still plans to meet next week in Damascus with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal.
"I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace," Rice told reporters in response to a question about the former president's plans. She did not, however, mention Carter by name. The Secretary of State made her comments during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
A spokesman for the Mashaal said last week that Carter's Center for Peace sent an envoy requesting a meeting with Hamas officials in Syria – a direct violation of American foreign policy.
Such a meeting, if it goes through, will be the first public contact between a prominent American official and the terrorist organization since Hamas terrorists kidnapped IDF officer Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid from Gaza near the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Shalit's condition and whereabouts remain unknown.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last week that US officials had advised the former president twice against meeting with any Hamas officials.