Abbas in Riyadh ahead of expected peace talks with Israel

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May 04, 2010

AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held talks in Middle East oil kingpin Saudi Arabia on Tuesday amid a flurry of diplomacy ahead of an expected resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Abbas was met by intelligence chief Prince Miqrin bin Abdul Aziz and was scheduled to hold talks with King Abdullah, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

“The visit comes as a part of diplomatic coordination ahead of the so-called proximity talks,” a Palestinian diplomat told AFP, referring to the US-brokered indirect negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

After meeting Abdullah, Abbas will head to Egypt for talks with President Hosni Mubarak, ahead of a planned meeting on Friday with US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell, who arrived in the region Tuesday.

Mubarak met in Egypt on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the two discussed the resumption of peace talks, the Israeli leader’s office said.

Saudi Arabia has played a key role in supporting negotiations towards a two-state solution, and in 2002 launched an Arab peace initiative towards this end. Egypt is also a key Arab partner in the negotiations.

“The support of the kingdom to our cause springs from its strong belief that what it is doing for the Palestinian cause is a duty dictated on it by its conscience and its faith,” Abbas told Okaz newspaper in an interview before the visit.

On April 15, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Arab leaders to prove their commitment to Middle East peace with “action, not just rhetoric” that would “make it easier for the Palestinians to pursue negotiations and achieve an agreement.”

She also urged countries like oil-rich Saudi Arabia to step up financial support for the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas.

“Arab states need to share a greater portion of these responsibilities,” she said.