Diplomacy: Postcards from an Edgy Trip

Jim Baker discovers plenty of listeners but few takers as he tries to peddle peace in the Middle East

While Secretary of State James Baker's plane taxied toward waiting dignitaries in Cairo two weeks ago, a senior official hurried to the rear of the cabin on a damage-control mission. Earlier that day Jordan's King Hussein had endorsed Baker's peace odyssey, but without publicly committing himself to joining the regional conference Baker was pushing. Journalists aboard Baker's plane, however, thought the more compelling story was that Saudi Arabia -- touted by Washington for months as the keystone of a new moderate Arab alliance -- would not attend the conference as a full member. The official tried to persuade the reporters that...

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