Representatives of more than 40 nations are in Maryland for a peace conference which President Bush says may help to generate a new Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is less optimistic.
"I don’t think much will come out of it. I think that’s the attitude that persists there, whether anybody wants to admit it or not," Grassley says. President Bush has said the common goal of the summit is "two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security." Grassley, a Republican, doesn’t see that happening in the near future, but perhaps down the road.
Grassley says: "I think a lot of countries are coming to the peace conference out of loyalty to the United States. That’s probably true for every one of the countries except for Syria and it is coming. I think that people just aren’t ready to negotiate yet."
Bush says the time has again come to launch peace talks because, in his words, "a battle is underway for the future of the Middle East." The summit is taking place at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Powerful Mississippi Senator Trent Lott announced Monday he’s quitting the Senate at year’s end, becoming the sixth Senate Republican to announce his retirement this year. Senator Grassley, who’s held elected office since 1959, says he’s not interested in trying to broker for a more powerful position for himself within the Senate.
"I’m top on the committees and these other vacancies that occur are because of elected leadership and I have not sought or desired an elected leadership post, based upon my desire to be a legislator more so than a compromiser of positions within the party," Grassley says. Grassley sits on several key committees, including Agriculture, Judiciary, Finance and Budget. He says he’s not interested in Lott’s old job — or any others.
Grassley says: "I’ve never sought those positions because I think my position as chairman of the Finance Committee has put me in a strong position of leadership without being recognized as an elected leader." Grassley was first elected to the state legislature in 1959 and served in the Iowa House until 1975. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1975 where he served until being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980.