Wednesday, May 27, 2009
No surprise:Obama Adds Saudi Arabia to Middle East Junket
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next Sunday, one day before his scheduled appearance in Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, according to the president’s spokesman. The addition of Saudi Arabia to the Middle East tour indicates added determination by President Obama to forge a regional peace in the face of hardening positions by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"The president will meet with his majesty King Abdullah to discuss a range of important issues, including Middle East peace, Iran and terrorism,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said late Tuesday. He is scheduled to deliver a major speech in Egypt, where he will continue attempts to reach out to the Muslim world.
The president’s aides said the speech will focus on “safety and security” for Americans and Muslim nations.
Before leaving for the Middle East and Europe, President Obama will receive Abbas, two weeks after a visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu, with whom the president “agreed to disagree.”
The United States has demanded that Israel stop all construction in Judea and Samaria, while the Prime Minister has taken steps, through Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to demolish approximately two dozen hilltop communities that the government says were built without permission.
The president faces a demand from the PA that Israel also stop building in Jerusalem neighborhoods restored to the Jewish state in the Six-Day War in 1967. The halt in building would be another step towards the PA plan to include all of post-1967 Israel in a new state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem.