"The king spoke with Israeli President (Shimon) Peres, the first such exchange between Saudi and Israeli leaders," said Burns during a meeting on Saudi-American relations in Washington that began on Monday.
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs gives no details of meeting between Peres, Saudi King.
A meeting between King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Israeli president Shimon Peres that took place on the margins of a UN Interfaith Dialogue Conference organised last November in New York, has been revealed by William Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, overseeing the Middle East.
“The king spoke with Israeli President (Shimon) Peres, the first such exchange between Saudi and Israeli leaders,” said Burns during a meeting on Saudi-American relations in Washington that began on Monday.
Israel, who holds no official diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, had been invited on King Abdullah’s initiative to participate in the Conference running from 12-13th November.
The Saudi sovereign also sponsored an international conference in July 2008 where key leaders from the three monotheist religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) assembled in Madrid.
Burns gave no details on the circumstances of the meeting between the Saudi monarch and the head of the Jewish state.
Earlier on Tuesday a Washington-based Saudi journalist, Ali Al-Ahmad, highlighted on his website “Saudi Information Agency – Independent Saudi News” that the official Israeli delegation had stayed at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, one of the places of residence frequented by members of the Saudi royal family.
The UN Interfaith conference of last November had denounced the use of religion in justifying the murder of innocent people and acts of terrorism.
Prior to the conference, the Saudi daily Al Watan revealed that the Israeli president had been “informed by some UN leaders that he should not try to shake the hand of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, neither before, nor after the [royal] speech.”
After the conference, the official Saudi press bragged about the fact that no handshakes had been exchanged between King Abdullah and the Israeli president.
“The Saudi Kingdom can point to its credit the fact to have been the first in offering a hand to Israel”, wrote Al Watan.
“But no handshakes were exchanged between the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (in Mecca and Medina) and the Israeli President Shimon Peres”, the newspaper argued, while noting that during the dinner attended by the two leaders, at the invitation of the UN chief, they were not seated at the same table.
“The Kingdom wants to signal in this way, that there will be no direct encounter or exchange of handshakes (between the leaders of the two countries) until Israel ceases violating the rights of Palestinians and takes a serious step towards the path of peace. The ball is therefore in their court” concluded Al Watan’s columnist.