Arab News runs two article Tuesday on what Saudi Arabia is looking to achieve through its attending the Middle East Peace Conferenc in Annapolis.
The first reports on what the Saudi Council of Ministers thinks. It also covers King Abdullah’s conversations with King Abdullah of Jordan, conducted on Monday, and Middle East Envoy and former British PM Tony Blair…
ME Conference â€˜Must Discuss Core Issuesâ€™
P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, 27 November 2007 â€” The Council of Ministers insisted yesterday that the international Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, must deal with core issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to be successful.
â€œThe Cabinet expressed its hope that the conference will deal with core issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict to reach a just and comprehensive peace settlement on all tracks within a timeframe,â€ said a Cabinet statement after the meeting.
The Cabinet, which was chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, also said that the Annapolis conference, called by US President George W. Bush, should lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The Kingdom also stressed that the conferenceâ€™s deliberations should be based on UN resolutions, the Middle East peace road map and the Arab peace initiative.
King Abdullah briefed ministers on the outcome of his talks with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is the Quartetâ€™s Middle East peace envoy, adding that the talks focused on international efforts to revive the peace process.
Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal is leading the Kingdomâ€™s delegation to the conference. Saudi Arabia agreed to participate in the conference after an Arab League meeting in Cairo. â€œIt is no secret that I was reluctant until today. Had it not been for the Arab consensus at the meeting, Saudi Arabia would not have gone to Annapolis,â€ Prince Saud said after the Cairo meeting.
He stressed that participation itself was not the final goal, and that the Arabs were seeking an agreement that would safeguard their interests. â€œWe are not going for handshakes or a display of emotions… We are there only to reach a peace which safeguards Arab interests and safeguards the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands,â€ he said.
The second piece is a reworking of an interview by Scott McLeod of TIME magazine with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal…
Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal tells TIME magazine that he is optimistic about this weekâ€™s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis because of what he calls US determination â€œto see this through.â€ Continuous US mediation in post-conference negotiations, including pressure on Israel, he says, â€œcan turn things aroundâ€ and lead to a comprehensive settlement before US President George W. Bushâ€™s term expires in 13 months.
But, speaking in Paris to Time correspondent Scott MacLeod just hours before his scheduled arrival in the US, Prince Saud warned Israelis that they would have no peace until Israel withdrew from Arab territories captured in the 1967 war. Saud, who will be the highest ranking Saudi to ever attend a peace conference with the Jewish state, added that he would not shake the hand of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or make a symbolic visit to Jerusalem before a peace deal. â€œThe hand that has been extended to us has been a fist so far,â€ he said. He warned Israelis against seeking a surrender, adding, â€œWe donâ€™t need a Versailles for the Arab world, a peace that will only be an instigator of future wars.â€
TIME: Are you optimistic about Annapolis?
Saud: One of the elements of optimism is the sense of determination of the United States to see this through. Peace without the complete and direct involvement of the United States is impossible. The assurance that it is going to be a comprehensive peace that is pursued, to tackle the main issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees, is certainly one of the elements.