Saudis, Jordan welcome Bush plan

Saudi Arabia and Jordan welcomed President Bush’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

An official Saudi statement distributed Tuesday by the Saudi Press Agency and translated by Reuters said the Bush proposal is “in line” with the Arab League peace initiative, which envisions comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace in exchange for a withdrawal from lands Israel captured in 1967. In his speech, Bush called for an end to Israel “continuing” its occupation of the West Bank.

Bush also called for a regional conference in the fall aimed at bolstering Palestinian institutions. White House officials insist that the conference will not cover final-status issues, such as Jerusalem or the right of return of Palestinian refugees, although the Saudi statement said it hoped the conference “would be part of a serious international effort tackling core issues of the conflict.”

The Saudi Press Agency’s English-language service did not carry the announcement, although it reported a conversation between Bush and Saudi King Abdullah. It also reported Jordanian King Abdullah II’s support for the plan. Abdullah of Jordan said Bush’s call would “pave the way for achieving a real and tangible progress in the peace process leading to an independent Palestinian state to be established on Palestinian soil.”

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