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Abbas upbeat about Saudi participation in November Mideast peace conference
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10:56, September 30, 2007

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sounded optimistic at the weekend about Saudi Arabia's participation in the planned Middle East peace conference to be held the United States in November.

In an interview published Saturday on the Washington Post Website, Abbas said that Saudi Arabia would attend the U.S.-sponsored conference despite the kingdom's "reservations in the beginning."

He made the comments after meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

"Yesterday, I met with Prince Saud al-Faisal, and he was satisfied. So I believe they will attend the conference," Abbas was quoted as saying.

Early in the month, Faisal said the conference to be held near Washington "would be pointless unless it addressed key Mideast issues and set a timetable to implement any deal."

If a timetable is not set for Jerusalem, the borders, the Palestinian refugees and other key issues that were clearly stated in the Arab Peace Initiative, "then we will enter endless negotiations," he said.

"Responsibilities must be reciprocal and not on one side only, and Israel must prove its seriousness through action on the ground, " the prince stressed.

"If these matters are not addressed by the meeting, I doubt the kingdom will participate," he warned.

On July 16, U.S. President George W. Bush proposed to hold the international conference, which would bring together Israel, the Palestinians and some Arab states to help resume the stalled Middle East peace talks.

Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Qatar will be invited to the summit, an aide to Abbas said.

Saudi Arabia has been trying to bolster its role as a Middle East peace broker and took the lead in March in relaunching the

Arab Peace Initiative at the 19th Arab summit in Riyadh.

The initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia and adopted in the 2002 Beirut Arab summit, calls for Israel's pullout from Arab land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in return for the normalization of ties with Arab states.

Source: Xinhua

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