Arafat: Saudi Peace Initiative Needs U.S. Backing; Palestinian Minister Due in Saudi Arabia
Palestinian Minister of International Cooperation Nabil Shaath is expected in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for talks on the Saudi peace plan, the Palestinian representative in the Saudi Kingdom said.
Discussions between Saudi leaders and Shaath, who is due to be accompanied by a high-ranking delegation, will focus on ways of adopting a "common Palestinian-Saudi approach to the initiative" of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Mustafa al-Sheikh Dib told AFP Wednesday.
"Other delegations will follow that," Dib pointed out.
The prince, de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, floated the prospect of the Arab world normalizing relations with Israel in return for a total Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories seized in the 1967 war.
His plan has been widely welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, but also in Israel and several other Western countries, including the United States.
Dib stated the plan "sent a message to Israel saying if it wanted to live in peace, then it must withdraw from all Arab territories and give Palestinian refugees their rights."
"It's also a message to (US President George W.) Bush saying Arabs are disciples of peace and not war," he added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said in an interview the Middle East peace initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia needed strong and immediate US support.
"There must be a very important, and very strong, and very quick push from outside," Arafat said in an interview published Thursday with the New York Times at his headquarters in Ramallah.
He added Saudi Crown Prince Abdulla's proposal is a "very strong platform." "The most important thing is that it is accepted by the Europeans, the Russians and the Americans," Arafat noted. (Albawaba.com)
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