Peres praises Saudi peace plan


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Saudi-led peace initiative is a "serious opening for real progress," Shimon Peres told a United Nations gathering.

"We cannot change the past. However, we can shape our future," Israel’s president said of the conflict between Israel and ts Arab neighbors during an address Wednesday to the U.N. interfaith dialogue summit. "This seems more feasible today in light of the Saudi proposal which evolved into an Arab peace initiative. The initiative’s portrayal of our region’s future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in the nations.

"A comprehensive regional peace requires the completion of the bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians and sharing the painful cost.  We are ready for this as we have proved many times in the past," Peres said, citing the peace accords with Egypt, the beginning of the Oslo peace process, the peace agreement with Jordan, and the withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza.

Some 65 countries will speak during the two-day summit, which many Arab heads of state are attending.

Earlier in the day, Peres attended an official banquet with Arab leaders hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in order to promote mutual understanding.
Saudi King Abdullah and Peres did not have any contact during the meal.

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