Daily Israel Report

Saudi King to Visit Israel's Neighbors this Week

Countries in Saudi King’s Mid-East tour are Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/27/2010, 3:32 AM / Last Update: 7/27/2010, 3:29 AM

The King Abdullah bin Abdul- Aziz of Saudi Arabia will be making a trip to the region at the end of this week.

The king’s regional tour will start in Egypt on Wednesday and will include all the countries that surround Israel. The aim of the visit is to heighten the cooperation between the Arab countries.

King Abdullah will be accompanied by Saudi consultants, ministers and journalists. One of the more important stops of his trip will be Syria, where he is expected to visit for the first time since 2002 on Thursday, and meet with President Bashar al-Assad. The two are expected to discuss the bilateral relationship between Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Ties between Syria and Saudi Arabia have been strained since the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (whom Saudi Arabia supported), for which some have blamed Syria.

On Friday, King Abdullah is also slated to visit Lebanon, his first visit to the country since 2002, during which he will meet President Michel Sleiman and members of the national unity government that includes members of Hizbullah. The king’s visit to Beirut comes at a time when a political crisis is brewing following last week’s announcement by Hizbullah leader Nasrallah that his organization will be indicted by the UN tribunal probing the Hariiri murder. Nasrallah said he would not accept any indictment of Hizbullah members and added that the credibility of the UN tribunal is questionable, since its members are made up of Americans and British and it uses officers with connection to the Mossad.

A Jordanian spokesman announced on Monday that King Abdullah will also visit Jordan as part of the tour, a stop on his visit that was not mentioned in previous reports. The Saudi king is expected to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the two will discuss some of the ongoing issues in the Middle East, including the possible direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.