Baker to resign after Rabin visit

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The Independent Online
JAMES BAKER, the US Secretary of State, will resign his position to take control of President Bush's limping re-election campaign, but only after a visit to the US by the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzak Rabin, White House sources said yesterday.

Further hints about Mr Baker's future role alongside Mr Bush, his long-time friend and political ally, emerged from the White House after confirmation that Mr Rabin will visit the President at his holiday home in Kennebunkport on 10 and 11 August. The sources said Mr Baker would be taking charge of the Bush-Quayle campaign, just as he did when he abandoned his position in the Treasury Department in 1988 to help the President to victory over Michael Dukakis, but that he wanted to see the Rabin talks out first.

The likelihood of Mr Baker transferring to the White House has been a subject of intense Washington gossip for many weeks and was all-but confirmed by Bush aides at the beginning of last week. Since then, however, there have been renewed doubts over his willingness to abandon the foreign portfolio just as the Middle East peace process seems ready to bear fruit.

The speculation was dampened last Sunday when Mr Baker's deputy at the State Department, Lawrence Eagleburger, suggested that the reports were 'nonsense'. And after a meeting with Mr Bush yesterday, the leading Republican senator, Bob Dole, seemed to suggest no final decision had been made. 'Someone said there had been no deal yet - I think it was the President,' Mr Dole said.

The timing of the Rabin visit would just give Mr Baker time to help the President with final preparations for the Republican national convention, which begins in Houston on 17 August.