JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) -International Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair met Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Monday on the second leg of a regional tour ahead of a US-sponsored peace conference later this year.
Blair and the Saudi monarch discussed “developments pertaining to the Middle East peace process and efforts under way to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region in keeping with UN resolutions and the Arab peace initiative,” the official SPA news agency reported.
Blair’s spokesman Matthew Doyle told AFP after the former British prime minister arrived in the Red Sea city of Jeddah that he had come to “listen as part of the conversations he is having with countries in the region.”
Blair, who flew in from Kuwait, “welcomes the chance to talk directly to Saudi Arabia about the Palestinian situation,” Doyle said.0
Doyle had earlier said that Blair, who was appointed the Quartet envoy in late June after stepping down from a decade as British premier, would also visit Egypt before arriving in Israel on Tuesday.
In July, during his maiden visit to the region as envoy of the Quartet — European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — Blair said he saw a “moment of opportunity” in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US President George W. Bush has called for a Middle East peace conference to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian talks which is probably going to be held in November.
Oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia, a US ally in the region, has welcomed Bush’s peace push, saying it contains elements compatible with an Arab peace plan revived at an Arab summit in Riyadh in March.
The five-year-old Saudi-authored blueprint offers Israel peace and normal ties if it withdraws from all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and allows the creation of a Palestinian state and return of Palestinian refugees.
Riyadh has stressed that the conference must tackle core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.