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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 09:50 GMT
Saudi support for US Iraq plans
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal greets US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Saudi Arabia is an ally of the US
Saudi Arabia has said Arab countries are ready to back a US plan to stabilise Iraq, but that only Iraqis could make it succeed.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the Saudi capital Riyadh as part of a Middle East tour to rally support for the US's new strategy.

"We agree with the objectives," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a news conference with Ms Rice.

On Monday, she got Egypt's support for the plan to send more troops to Iraq.

Ms Rice also met Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian heads and announced plans for a US-Israeli-Palestinian summit.

"We agree fully with the goals set by the new strategy, which in our view are the goals that - if implemented - would solve the problems that face Iraq," said Prince Saud.

"[But] implementation also requires a [positive] response by the Iraqis themselves to these goals... Other countries can help, but the main responsibility in taking decisions rests on the Iraqis," he added.

Mr Rice said after talks with King Abdullah that they had discussed Iraq, Lebanon and the situation involving the Israelis and Palestinians.

She said it was a "rather challenging time" in the Middle East - which, she hoped, "could become a time of opportunity".

She said America would deepen its involvement in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians - and said there was support from him on Iraq.

"The Saudis were very helpful in helping us to think through some of the elements about Iraq. Obviously, we have the same goal - which is an Iraq that is unified, whose territorial integrity is intact, which does not face outside interference and meddling."

The Mid-East summit, planned for three or four weeks' time, will examine ways to speed up the so-called 2003 roadmap for peace.

Ms Rice said she hoped talks would ultimately lead to a Palestinian state.

Regional fears

The Israeli-Palestinian issue was also under discussion in Egypt on Monday, along with the situation in Iraq.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told Ms Rice that Egypt would give its full support to Washington's latest plans for Iraq, and hoped they would succeed.

In Luxor, southern Egypt, Mr Abul Gheit said he hoped the plan would lead to the "dismantlement of whatever terror organisations or militias are tormenting the Iraqi scene".

Ms Rice thanked Egypt for being a "positive force" behind the strategy.

Despite harsh criticism in the region of the way Washington has conducted itself, many share the US fear of what failure in Iraq will mean, says BBC Middle East correspondent Ian Pannell in Cairo.

Egypt echoed concerns in the Arab world about the growing influence of Iran, making a thinly veiled swipe at what it called the interventions of certain people in Iraqi affairs, he said.

Condoleezza Rice arrives in Saudi Arabia

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