Saudi Arabia rejects Obama's call for step-by-step peace with Israel

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Jerusalem, Aug. 1 (ANI): Rejecting the Obama administration's call to resume peace talks with Israel, Saudi Arabia has said that its relations will not improve with the Jewish state unless it withdraws from all occupied Palestinian territories.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, that his country could not consider steps suggested by US Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell, as Israel was not interested in a deal.

"Incrementalism and a step-by-step approach, has not and, we believe, will not lead to peace. Temporary security and confidence building measures will also not bring peace," The Jerusalem Post quoted Saud, as saying at a joint press conference with Clinton.

"What is required is a comprehensive approach that defines the final outcome at the outset and launches into negotiations over final status issues," the prince said, referring to the borders of a future Palestinian state, control of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees, water and security.

President Barack Obama, Clinton and Mitchell all have been urging Arab nations to improve ties with Israel with confidence-building measures such as opening trade offices, allowing academic exchanges and permitting civilian Israeli aircraft to overfly their airspace as a way of demonstrating their commitment to peace.

Clinton repeated the call in her remarks, saying the Obama administration wants "the Arab states, including our friends in Saudi Arabia, to work with us to take steps to improve relations with Israel, to support the Palestinian Authority and to prepare their people to embrace the eventual peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis."

"Saudi Arabia's continued leadership is absolutely vital to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace," she added.

Obama's overtures to Saudi Arabia have, however, fallen on deaf ears so far.

"The question really is, What will Israel give in exchange for this comprehensive settlement offer: Israel hasn't even responded to an American request to halt settlements, which President Obama described as illegitimate," Saud said. (ANI)

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