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Saudi Arabia Supports Proposed Mideast Peace Conference

Condoleezza Rice and Prince Saud al-Faisal in Riyadh in January 2007 (epa) August 1, 2007 -- Saudi Arabia has given its support to a Middle East peace conference proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal today said Saudi Arabia welcomes the initiative, adding that there is international momentum toward peace in the Middle East, and that Israel should respond to those pressures.

Al-Faisal was speaking in the Saudi city of Jeddah at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who are on a Middle East tour to win support for U.S. policy in Iraq, address the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and counter Iran's influence in the region.

Reports from talks with Arab foreign ministers on July 31 in Egypt said the two tried to allay concerns that the United States might abruptly withdraw from Iraq.

In a statement, regional officials pledged to promote stability in Iraq, but made no new specific commitments.

Rice and Gates also extended offers of military aid to Arab countries and Israel, saying the arms packages would help counter "negative" influences from Al-Qaeda, Hizballah, Syria, and Iran.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)