October 20, 2008 - 8:00pm,7340,L-3611272,00.html

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said on Tuesday he hoped that Israel's next government would follow the lead of President Shimon Peres, who last month called for a revival of Arab-Israeli peace initiatives.

Peres, speaking at the United Nations, called on Saudi King Abdullah to "further" a dormant land-for-peace plan endorsed by the Arab League six years ago, and said Israel would attend any venue to end the conflict with its Arab neighbors.

The Saudi minister told a news conference in Riyadh that the interest in the plan voiced by the president was "better late than never".

"We hope the new prime minister will use the same language," al-Faisal added. The prime minister-designate, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, was given extra time by Peres this week to form the next coalition government.

She has vowed to pursue US-sponsored peace negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that were launched a year ago by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Livni's main coalition partner, Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, also said last week that Israeli leaders were seriously reconsidering the 2002 Saudi peace initiative, which calls for full Arab recognition of Israel if the State withdraws to pre-1967 lines and accepts a solution for Palestinian refugees.

Israel had previously turned down the Saudi initiative, saying Middle East rapprochement should not come with preconditions.


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