Saudi Arabia's foreign minister described as "encouraging" his talks with US officials about a proposed Mideast peace meeting, but stressed Wednesday that success will be determined by commitments to tackle key final status issues, not whether Arab countries agree to attend.
The Bush administration, trying to revive long-stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians, has proposed a November meeting to bring the two sides to the table, joined by other key players. It is eager to secure the participation of regional powerhouses like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which has yet to sign a peace deal with the Jewish state.
Arab nations, however, fear that without a commitment to discuss thorny topics such as the status of Jerusalem and right of return of Palestinians, the meeting will develop into a photo opportunity that could do more harm than good. The meeting's agenda has yet to be set.
"It is not Saudi Arabia that puts conditions, or Saudi Arabia that is going to negotiate," Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. "Its presence there, or non-presence, is not the most significant issue."