Saudi king pushes 2002 peace plan in Mitchell meeting

King Abdullah calls for revival of stalled Saudi peace initiative offering Israel recognition by all Arab states in return for withdraw to 1967 borders.

Saudi King Abdullah 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Saudi King Abdullah 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Saudi King Abdullah met with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell in Riyadh on Sunday, and according to the Saudi News Agency, discussed developments concerning "the Palestinian issue and peace process in the region." King Abdullah is believed to have pushed for the revival of the stalled 2002 Arab peace initiative (sometimes referred to as the Saudi plan), which offers Israel official recognition by all Arab states in exchange for withdrawal from territory Israel captured in the 1967 war. During his trip to the region this week, Mitchell has suggested that it be incorporated into the American peace effort. The large Saudi delegation also included Prince Saud al-Faisal, the minister of foreign affairs, and intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the news agency said. Mitchell also met with Prince Saud al-Faisal to discuss issues of mutual concern. Saudi Arabia is among the Western-backed Sunni Arab states that is concerned with Iran's influence in the region and the development of its nuclear program, a chief concern of US President Barack Obama. Mitchell's visit to Saudi Arabia followed stops to Israel, the West Bank and Egypt, where he has urged both parties to support the two-state solution to resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While some Israeli officials agree with the Arab peace initiative in spirit, many do not agree with details of the text, particularly the wording about resolving the refugee issue. On Saturday, Mitchell said in Cairo that a Palestinian state alongside Israel was the only way to end the Mideast conflict, adding that Egypt was necessary to achieve this goal. Mitchell's trip to Egypt came after three days of separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Israel. "We believe that a comprehensive Middle East peace is not only in the interest of the people of the Middle East, the Palestinians, and Israelis and Egyptians... but it is also in the national interest of the United States and people around the world," he told reporters after meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Obama has not yet detailed his Middle East policy, but both Israelis and Palestinians have been watching closely for a possible shift in US positions. AP contributed to this report.