Abdullah joins Obama in pressing for Syria talks


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Saudi Arabia’s king joined the United States’ call for resumed Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations after meeting with President Obama.

"The President and King Abdullah also discussed the importance of resuming the Israeli-Syrian and the Israeli-Lebanese tracks in order to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," a White House statement said after the leaders met Tuesday in Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resisted U.S. pressure to pick up where his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, left off with the Syrians, saying he will not agree to the Assad regime’s precondition of a commitment to a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of a final-status agreement.

Abdullah also joined Obama in calling for direct Israeli-Palestinian talks.

"They expressed their hope that proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians will lead to the resumption of direct talks with the aim of two states living side-by-side in peace and security," the statement said.

Israel wants direct talks instead of the U.S.-brokered proximity talks, but the Palestinians have demanded a total settlement freeze as a condition. Netanyahu has instituted a partial, temporary freeze.

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