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Palpatine to Separatists: Let's Talk

GALACTIC CITY, CORUSCANT - Supreme Chancellor Palpatine once again took to the HoloNet, not to announce an impending vote or Senate session, but instead to offer an open invitation to Count Dooku, popular leader of the Separatist movement, to parley.

"There are many on both sides of this grand debate eager to turn this dispute into war. It needn't degenerate into so wasteful an outcome. Together, we have the intelligence and the reason to find an alternative solution."

Palpatine was firm, composed, yet showed signs of exhaustion in the brief, 12-minute address. He sat at his elegant chair in his Executive Office. No aides attended Palpatine, though his controversial Red Guards did silently flank him.

Palpatine to Dooku: "... the solution lies
not in insurrection, but rather through reform."
The transmission overrode all government channels and 90 percent of private feeds, interrupting regular programming. Visible to trillions upon trillions of viewers, Palpatine's address was directed to a single spectator -- Count Dooku himself.

"I appeal to your sensibilities developed as a revered Jedi. I was witness not only to your practiced brand of diplomacy during the Sevarcos Dispute of three decades ago, but also of your former apprentice's noble efforts to protect the sovereign of my world. From these examples, I know you are a proponent of peace.

"We have much in common, sir, for it is the inefficiencies of the Republic that are the focus of my Chancellery. But the solution lies not in insurrection, but rather through reform. The system will work, and together we will make it work."

Count Dooku's whereabouts are unknown, necessitating the Chancellor's HoloNet-wide address. The former Jedi Master and Count of Serenno disappeared ten years ago, only to re-emerge two years ago at various Mid and Inner Rim worlds with a fiery rhetoric that has fueled the Separatist movement.

The Jedi Council has consistently dismissed claims that Dooku's orders have resulted in the scattered flashpoints of violence throughout the galaxy. Instead, they attribute the skirmishes to opportunists simply using the banner of the Separatists to pursue their own agendas.

"It is with great regret that we reflect upon the loss of Master Dooku from the order," said Senior Jedi Council member Mace Windu last year, following the secessionist-sparked Battle of Antar 4. "But he is still the product of Jedi training and upbringing. It is impossible that he is stirring the Separatists to take up arms."

At the end of his address, Chancellor Palpatine named Bothawui, a neutral world, as a potential site for conference. Though he did not name a date for security reasons, the Chancellor did announce that all avenues of communication to his office were open to the Count.

Pundits are split as to the end result of Palpatine's message, and what it means to his political career. "I applaud the Supreme Chancellor's attempt at looking for peaceful avenues," said Senator Orn Free Taa (Ryloth). "That he should take this initiative, seemingly without consultation, is troubling, though."

"It's shameful," said Senator Onaconda Farr (Rodia). "He's trying to outtalk a fire consuming our worlds, or negotiate a dam from bursting. Why not just hand over the Republic to that mind-wizard? He's a fool if he thinks this cowardly misstep is going to blunt the Military Creation Act."

Others, like Senator R'shinnos Sh'neel (Genassa), are reserving judgment until further developments. "It was a careful bid. The Chancellor may be meek, but he is an intelligent man. I wouldn't underestimate him. He's up to something, I can promise you that."

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