Pro-US Arab states to push for peace plan



A palace statement said King Abdullah told Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Saud Al Faisal and Egypt’s Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Amman that the March 28-29 summit in Riyadh should bring a consensus on backing the 2002 plan.




“Arab states should unify their positions and especially as regards giving new impetus to the Arab peace initiative,” the statement quoted the monarch as saying. He was referring to a 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut that adopted a Saudi initiative offering Israel normal ties with Arab countries in return for full withdrawal from land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.



The Amman talks are the first high-level talks by the so-called “Arab Quartet”, that also includes the United Arab Emirates, to coordinate positions on peace and other regional developments ahead of the Riyadh summit. Saudi Arabia criticised Israel on Tuesday for setting preconditions to Middle East peace talks and urged it to accept the 2002 Arab initiative and discuss details later.



Israel has said it cannot accept some terms in the proposal, including the total withdrawal from territory captured in 1967 and the return of Palestinian refugees to what is now the Jewish state.



In a rebuke to Israel, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib told reporters after separate talks with his Saudi and Egyptian counterparts they were agreed the Arab plan had all the necessary elements for a comprehensive settlement.



“This is an Arab peace initiative, a declaration of principles towards solving the Palestinian issue and represents a clear Arab position and is acceptable on the international arena,” Khatib said.



Jordanian officials privately say the Arab Quartet wants to show Washington the seriousness of their quest for peace with Israel in return for a stronger commitment by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to a two-state solution by 2008.


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