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Solana Backs Saudi Peace Proposal - 2002-02-28

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is in Egypt, trying to garner support for a Saudi proposal aimed at achieving peace in the Middle East.

Javier Solana has been in the Middle East trying to push forward Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz's initiative. It calls for Arab diplomatic recognition of Israel and normal relations if Israel withdraws from all land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

Mr. Solana, who was in Saudi Arabia Wednesday, says the Crown Prince wants his proposal to become an Arab initiative. "What he told me is that he is determined to move that idea forward and to get it approved among the Arab leagues in the formal meeting of the Arab League that will take place in Lebanon March 28. And that he would like to get in touch with all the Arab leaders and see if those set of ideas can become ideas not of the Saudi Arabian countries but of the Arab countries," he said.

Mr. Solana said there would be a hectic schedule of events in the next few weeks, including President Mubarak traveling to Washington, Vice President Dick Cheney touring the Middle East and the Arab League summit scheduled for the end of March in Beirut. Mr. Solana said the Crown Prince's initiative likely will become the top agenda item.

"We hope very much, that will contribute to bring a peace to the region. The important thing is peace. The important thing is to create a dynamic, which is new, a dynamic that has to push people in the direction for peace. And that is what I think that all people of good will in the region, and the people of good will in Europe and the United States want to do," he said.

Mr. Solana said he held important meetings this week with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He described Thursday's talks with President Mubarak as being informative. Mr. Solana is scheduled to leave Egypt Thursday evening for Jordan.