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In Egypt for a meeting on Iraq's future, Condoleezza Rice met with her Syrian counterpart today in a diplomatic breakthrough. Will Iran be next? What about America's most important Arab ally?  Will Saudi Arabia help the government of Iraq or distance itself from US interests in the Middle East? Also, Democrats? focus moves from troop withdrawal to Iraq benchmarks and, on Reporter's Notebook, Queen Elizabeth comes back to Jamestown.  We talk about the first British Colony and its myths and history.

Photo: Nasser Nuri/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Talks of Iraqi Parliament Recess Irk US Lawmakers 6 MIN, 1 SEC

After failing to override the President's Iraq spending veto, the Democrats have blinked first, giving up the demand for a timeline to bring home the troops.  Both they and the White House are now focused on benchmarks for the Iraqi government.  Meantime, in Baghdad, a bill for oil-revenue distribution is stalled and the parliament may decide to take the summer off.  Sheryl Gay Stolberg covers the White House for the New York Times.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times (@SherylNYT)

Main Topic America's Tangled Diplomacy in the Middle East 35 MIN, 28 SEC

In Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, diplomats from some 50 countries are meeting this week on the future of Iraq. Prime Minister al-Maliki is under intense pressure, asking forgiveness of $50 billion in debt rolled up by Saddam Hussein while trying to show he can hold on to his own job. Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Syria's foreign minister--the countries' most senior diplomatic contact since 2005, when the US pulled its ambassador from Damascus after the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister. Rice may also meet her Iranian counterpart, but there are new problems with Saudi Arabia. Will King Abdullah help Iraq rebuild by forgiving debts racked up by Saddam Hussein? Is America's most important Arab ally trying to distance itself from US interests in the Middle East?

Warren Strobel, Reuters (@WStrobel)
Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (@ksadjadpour)
Martin Indyk, Brookings Institution
Patrick Clawson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Reporter's Notebook The Queen Visits Jamestown on Its 400th Anniversary 7 MIN, 20 SEC

In 1957, Queen Elizabeth toured Jamestown, Virginia for the 350th anniversary of the first British Colony in what became the United States of America. Vice President Richard Nixon was her guide, and the former colony was as politically neutralized as Disneyland.  Today, she's coming back, for Jamestown's 400th anniversary, but it's a different story, complete with acknowledgement of the darker side of "one of the epochal events in world history." Rupert Cornwell is Washington Bureau Chief for London's Independent newspaper.

Rupert Cornwell, Washington Bureau Chief for the Independent

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