Amman, Riyadh say commitment to Mecca deal guarantees Palestinian unity

KING ABDULLAH AND Saudi King Abdullah on Monday held talks on developments in the Palestinian territories and Iraq, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

During talks in Riyadh, the two leaders stressed the importance of unifying Palestinian ranks and working with the international community to end the suffering of the Palestinians and establish their independent state.

They said commitment to the implementation of the power-sharing deal agreement between Fateh and Hamas in Mecca is a guarantee to enhance Palestinian unity and form a government that is capable of meeting the current challenges.

On Iraq, the two leaders condemned attempts to fuel violence and infighting, stressing their support for efforts to preserve unity, security and stability.

They also discussed the annual Arab summit, to be hosted by Saudi Arabia on March 28 and 29.

King Abdullah was invited to the summit on Monday.

Saudi Arabia said in 2006 it did not want to host an Arab summit this year, but the Arab League said in January Riyadh changed its mind, Reuters reported.

The gatherings of Arab leaders are convened annually and it was Saudi Arabia’s turn to host the summit this year. Saudi Arabia did not give a reason for not wishing to hold the summit and its subsequent change of heart. Al Riyadh daily said Saudi King Abdullah had sent an invitation to Syrian President Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran whose relations with Saudi Arabia have cooled over the last year.

The leaders of all 22 members of the Arab League normally receive invitations, but often many do not attend, instead sending foreign ministers.

Saudi concern that Iran is extending its influence into Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories has been a key factor behind a high-profile diplomatic drive in recent months.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan want the United States to make serious efforts to mediate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which they see as central to radicalisation.

Diplomats in Riyadh speculate that Saudi Arabia may wish to revive an Arab Peace initiative adopted by the Arab summit in 2002.

US and Israeli officials have recently spoken positively of the initiative.

The initiative envisages Israel returning land occupied in 1967, allowing a Palestinian state to come into existence, in return for diplomatic ties with all Arab states.

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