New Mideast Peace Forum Agreed

RIYADH The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia agreed yesterday to set up a multinational forum to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This forum can be integrated with the Middle East Quartet to work together to restore comprehensive peace and security in the region; said the visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He  was referring to the group of four that make up the Mideast Quartet  the United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union.

The president also reaffirmed his support for the Hamas-led government and urged the international community to continue giving aid to the Palestinians. Yudhoyono told newsmen here that he would also appoint a special envoy based permanently in Palestine.

The president urged donor nations to extend aid to Palestine, saying he will join the new forum with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to find a lasting solution to the conflict. The Indonesian president, who left Riyadh yester- day, said: “Hamas should be given a chance to govern and solve the problem. So don’t add to the burden by halting aid right now.”

The Indonesian president also met Prince Alwaleed in Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, during his stay in Riyadh and discussed commercial relations.

Prince Alwaleed was invited by the president to visit Indonesia.

Speaking on this occasion, Prince Alwaleed said: “We have significant investments in Indonesia and will continue to invest where there is potential for development and growth.”

In Jeddah, Yudhoyono held talks yesterday with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) officials including ID chief Ahmed Muhammad Ali. Referring to Saudi Indonesian commercial relations, M.S. Hidayat, chief of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Jakarta would set up a special team of businessmen to handle business and investment interests of the two countries. Mohamed Fouzi,       commercial officer at the Indonesian Embassy, also confirmed that Saudi Armco would supply 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Indonesia. “We have already reached an agreement about oil supplies,” said Fouzi. He, however, said that no formal agreement had been signed so far.

In fact, Saudi Aramco and Indonesia’s state-run oil company PT Pertamina are working on a plan to set up a refinery in Indonesia. Oil from the Kingdom would be processed in an oil refinery in the East Java town of Tuban, said an executive of PT Pertamina. Indonesia is a member of OPEC, but its output has been falling over the last few years.

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