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Saudis urge US on Middle East peace
King Abdullah in US to discuss Palestinian issue and nuclear standoff with Iran.
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2010 12:00 GMT


Middle East peace process, Iran and economic co-operation to dominate US-Saudi talks

Saudi Arabia's king is due to travel to Washington to meet Barack Obama, the US president, to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, the nuclear standoff with Iran, and economic co-operation.

The meeting on Tuesday is also likely to focus on US policy in Afghanistan, following the sacking of the US military commander there and mutual national security efforts.

King Abdullah, 86, will be at the White House just a week before Obama is due to meet Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, following Israel's decision to "liberalise" its siege of the Gaza Strip after its flotilla raid in May, in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Discussing the visit, Hussein Shobokshi, a Saudi columnist, told Al Jazeera that Abdullah will take the opportunity to ask the US to move from talking to creating policies and procedures with regard to Israel and Iran.

"The Israelis have been literally getting away with murder and they have ignored any type of request by the American administration vis-a-vie the settlements.

"There is no end in sight [to settlements]. Barack Obama has not done anything. It's not a matter of him doing more, it's a matter of [him] doing something, period. We need to see some important measures on the ground.

"The Saudis have held a clear and consistent message that the entire Middle East should be a nuclear-free area. I don't think America is putting the same pressure on Israel as they are on Iranians."

Seeking inducements

Abdullah and Obama met a year ago in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, the day before Obama's Cairo address to the Muslim world, at a time when the US was seeking inducements to Israel from the Arab world to move peace negotiations forward.

Analysts said the Saudis would be keen to talk about US-driven new nuclear sanction over Iran, the Middle East peace process, and Afghanistan.

The two sides could also agree on arms deals to build Riyadh's defensive capabilities against Iran's threat, including a long-pending request for as many as 72 F-15 Eagle tactical fighters, according to defense industry sources.

The Saudis have long linked achieving a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal to alleviating other regional tensions, including the perceived threat from Iran.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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