Israel could be turning to Saudi Arabia to revive the stalled Middle East peace talks, according to Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Peres traveled to New York to attend a two-day interfaith dialog, a religion summit that took place at United Nations headquarters.
During a news conference following his address there on Wednesday, Peres was asked whether there has been any contact between him and Saudi King Abdullah at the U.N. Peres answered that they had had some contact during the summit.
Unofficial word is that the two may have crossed paths briefly during a VIP dinner that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted on Tuesday night.
But Newsmax has learned that there also have been lower-level contacts with Saudi officials in New York and at several gatherings in Europe and in the Middle East during the past year.
Peres made it clear during his news conference that he would not elaborate because of the delicacy of the issues.
The issue of Israeli-Saudi contacts has been a main topic of debate in the Arab press leading up to the U.N. speeches by the Saudi king and the Israeli president.
The Saudi king, speaking through an interpreter, said: "Terrorism and criminality are the enemies of each and every religion and civilization.
"They wouldn't have appeared had it not been for the upset of the principles of tolerance."
When Peres took to the floor, he broke off from his prepared speech to address King Abdullah directly: "Your majesty, the king of Saudi Arabia. I was listening to your message. I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people. It's right. It's needed. It's promising.”
Abdullah offered a plan in 2002, when he was crown prince, calling for Israel to withdraw from occupied land in exchange for Arab recognition.
Peres said in his speech, which several Saudi diplomats attended: "The Arabs replaced the three No's of Khartoum [no peace, no negotiations, no recognition] with a peace initiative, inaugurated by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud . . . I call upon the King to further his initiative. It may become an invitation for comprehensive peace, one to convert battlegrounds to common grounds."
However, the Israeli pointed out that Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could throw up a roadblock to a true regional peace.
"The Iranian people are not our enemies,” he said. “Their fanatic leadership is their problem and the world's concern . . . Their leader is a danger to his people, the region and the world.”
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