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President Bush and Vice President Cheney are just two of the world leaders engaged in a week of crisis diplomacy in the Middle East. Will Iraq’s sectarian violence disrupt the entire region?  Can the US get help from its Middle Eastern allies?  What about Iran? Plus, Britain's announced troop withdrawal from Iraq, and an update on the investigation into the Polonium 210 that killed a former Russian spy, radioactive poison that's been found in several locations in London.

Reporter's Notebook Russian Agents with a License to Kill

Former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko's hair fell out and his vital organs shut down after apparent ingestion of Polonium 210.  Investigators have now found traces of the material at his home, a hotel and a restaurant he visited on the day he fell ill and several more sites that have not yet been identified.  Before he died, Litvinenko blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin of having him killed. As the investigation continues, the British government says there's "no need for public alarm.

Sandra Laville, Reporter for the Guardian of London

Making News British Announce Troop Withdrawal from Iraq

Britain's Defence Minister said today that "thousands" of British troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of next year.  Although he gave no firm timetable, Des Browne's comments confirm the timetable detailed recently by Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett. Some 7200 British troops remain in southern Iraq.

Michael Smith, Sunday Times of London

Main Topic Violence and Diplomacy in the Middle East

With sectarian violence in Iraq reaching a new scale of brutality, there are multiple warnings that the entire Middle East region may be coming apart. President Bush and Vice President Cheney are engaged in a week of crisis diplomacy aimed at saving Iraq's civilian government. While Cheney has returned from Saudi Arabia, President Bush has left Washington on a trip that will end in meetings with Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki. Meantime, Iraqi President Talabani is meeting with Iranian leaders, and Israel's Prime Minister Olmert is making peace offerings to the Palestinians. Both parties in Congress want pressure on the regime with the goal of promoting withdrawal of American troops. Will America's allies try to influence Sunni insurgents?  Will the US talk with Iran about controlling Shiite militias?  We'll ask a variety of experts, are there any good options left?

Fawaz Gerges, London School of Economics and Politics
Fouad Ajami, Stanford University
Mansour Farhang, Professor of Political Science at Bennington College
Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland (@ShibleyTelhami)
Patrick Clawson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

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