Obama Lands in Middle East, Ready to Make Tough Sell

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2009 8:28 AM CDT
President Barack Obama arrives in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, Wednesday, June 3, 2009.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – Open arms and a full red carpet rollout greeted President Obama on his arrival in Saudi Arabia this morning, but the pleasantries will likely end when the policy talk starts, the New York Times reports. Obama wants the Arab nations to offer a peaceful gesture toward Israel, but Saudi officials and experts say King Abdullah wants some gesture from Israel first.

At the bare minimum, Israel must commit to a two-state solution, they say. The Arab world made plenty of concessions, they argue, in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, but Israel has not held up its end of the bargain. The Saudis also won’t move without the full Arab League. They say a unilateral concession from one country will cause less committed members to abandon the peace initiative.