Saudi Arabia ready to attend regional peace conference, explore ties with Iraq
Saudi Arabia will attend a Middle East peace conference proposed by President Bush for later this year, the Saudi foreign minister said Wednesday. "We are interested in the peace conference," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
"When we get an invitation from the minister (Rice) to attend, when this takes place, we will discuss it and we will make sure that we attend" the conference, al-Faisal said, according to AFP. It should be noted that Israeli officials will also attaend the event and Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia also pledged Wednesday to explore opening diplomatic relations with the Shiite-led government in Iraq. Al-Faisal told Gates that his country will soon send a diplomatic mission to Baghdad "and explore how we can start an embassy in Iraq."
On her part, Rice thanked her Saudi host for considering diplomatic ties, calling it "an important step."