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Israel Proposes Peace Conference With Arab Leaders

Olmert (right) with Merkel on April 1 (epa) April 2, 2007 -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed holding a regional peace conference with Arab leaders to discuss ideas for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Jerusalem with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which currently hol;ds the rotating EU Presidency, Olmert said he wanted the conference to include Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, whom Olmert called an "important leader."

Olmert said each side could bring its own demands and proposals to the conference, and no side should try to impose terms.

There has been no immediate response from Saudi Arabia to the Israeli leader's proposal.

At a summit in Saudi Arabia last week, the Arab League renewed a 2002 Saudi peace plan that offers recognition of Israel by Arab countries in exchange for Israel's withdrawal from captured territories and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees. Israel has previously rejected the plan.

(compiled from agency reports)