Saudis, Lebanese to attend Annapolis


Saudi Arabia and Lebanon will attend the Annapolis peace conference.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said following an Arab League meeting Friday that he will come to the Israeli-Palestinian parley in Annapolis, Maryland on November 27.

“I’m not hiding any secret about the Saudi position. We were reluctant until today,” Faisal told reporters in Cairo, where the Arab League decided to support the Bush administration’s efforts to push forward talks on a peaceful Palestinian state.

“If not for the Arab consensus we felt today, we would not have decided to go,” Faisal said. “But the kingdom would never stand against an Arab consensus, as long as the Arab position has agreed on attending, the kingdom will walk along with its brothers in one line.”

On Saturday, Lebanon’s acting foreign minister, Tarek Mitri, said he would also come to Annapolis in light of the Arab League’s endorsement of the conference. The decision angered Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese militia which fought a war with Israel last year.

As Saudi Arabia nor Lebanon formally recognize Israel, they have been wild cards in the Annapolis planning.

Another has been Syria, which conditioned attendance on the Annapolis agenda including a discussion of its demand for a return of the Golan Heights from Israel. A final Syrian decision on the issue was expected by Monday.

“We have said constantly that we are interested in Syria participating,” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters before leaving for the United States. Asked if he believed the United States promised Syria something in exchange for its possible participation, Olmert said: “I don’t think so.”

Recommended from JTA