News Brief

Israel said it was ready to enter peace talks with Arab nations based on a Saudi initiative. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the overture in a television interview broadcast Monday, the latest indication of Israeli accession to Riyadh’s initiative, which was first endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 but long rebuffed by Jerusalem. “I’m ready to sit with them on the basis of the Saudi plan. And I’m ready to listen very carefully to their proposal on the basis of this plan and to see how we can work together to ultimately find common ground,” Olmert told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Israel has voiced reservations about the Saudi initiative, which calls for full withdrawal from all territory Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War and can be interpreted to call for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel. Still, Olmert is widely expected to try to bridge the differences in the absence of progress in talks with the Palestinian Authority. On Wednesday the Arab League, which does not formally recognize the Jewish state, is expected to set up a working group for contacts with Israel.

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