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Saudi Arabia refutes rumors that a senior prince visited Israel

Israeli public radio last month reported that a senior Saudi prince had secretly met officials in Israel

Saudi Arabia on Sunday denied that any of its officials had visited Israel, after local media reported that a senior prince had made a secret diplomatic trip there last month.

“Reports of a secret visit to Israel by a Saudi official which have appeared on some media are unfounded,” a spokesman for the Saudi foreign ministry said.

“Saudi Arabia has always been transparent as regards contacts and visits” to foreign countries, the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Israeli public radio last month reported that a senior Saudi prince had secretly met officials in Israel, however the name or specific position of the royal was not disclosed, and the Israeli prime minister’s office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the report.

In 2002, Saudi Arabia proposed a peace initiative offering Arab countries’ recognition of Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state.

While Israel has major objections to parts of the initiative, purportedly warming ties between the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sunni states in the region have reportedly opened the door to compromise on the long-stalled plan.

Over the last two years, senior Israeli government figures, including Netanyahu, said that several Arab states who outwardly maintain a hostile attitude toward Israel have expressed interest in co-operation, driven chiefly by shared animosity toward Shia powerhouse Iran.

However there are no indications that Arab states are set to formally recognize Israel.

Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and is party to an Arab League boycott on trade with the Jewish state.

Source: AFP

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