Hard to say whether the $20-billion arms package Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brought to the negotiating table with Saudi Arabia has anything to do with Saudi leaders cottoning to the idea of meeting with Israel, Palestinians and select other Mideast states later this year.


The conference is intended to revive the peace process and would include Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states viewed as moderate by the U.S.

“We welcome this initiative,” said Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

The kingdom has no diplomatic relations with Israel, saying previously it would only establish them at the culmination of an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.

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