Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 12, 2008 - 1:00am

The Arab League has urged US president-elect Barack Obama to focus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after he takes office in January, spokesman Hisham Yussef said on Thursday.

The 22-member pan-Arab institution detailed its vision for an end to the decades-old conflict in a letter signed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal and delivered to Obama via an aide, Yussef told AFP.

"The letter explains our stance on the conflict, focusing on the Arab peace proposal," he said.

The league adopted a Saudi proposal in 2002 which called on Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, in return for diplomatic relations with Arab states.

The plan was presented at an Arab summit in Beirut and relaunched at a Riyadh summit in 2007.

"This is a new administration. It is important that we follow up with it and that it assumes its responsibilities," Yussef said.

"The new administration will be busy with other things, but we think that it is important for it to focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict."

Arab foreign ministers reiterated their support for the Saudi initiative after a meeting in Cairo last month, and the Palestinian Authority has begun advertising it in Israeli and Arab newspapers.

Israel initially responded warily to the plan, but President Shimon Peres recently praised the plan in meetings with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak and with Saudi King Abdullah.

Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported that Obama pledged to support the Saudi plan during a visit to Israel and the occupied territories in July.

But Dennis Ross, a Middle East adviser to Obama, denied the report last month. "Then-senator Obama did not say this, the story is false," Israel's Haaretz daily quoted Ross as saying.


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