Israeli President Shimon Peres seized the rare opportunity of being in the same hall as Saudi King Abdullah on Wednesday to praise a Saudi peace initiative that he said had brought hope to the Middle East, Reuters reported.
Addressing a special high-level U.N. General Assembly meeting on dialogue between different religions, Peres termed some of the language in an Arab peace proposal based on the Saudi initiative "inspirational and promising -- a serious opening for real progress."
It was a rare moment -- an Israeli head of state speaking directly to the Saudi Arabian leader, whose country does not recognise Israel. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries to have signed full peace accords with the Jewish state.
Israeli officials, including Peres, have previously said Israel was seriously reconsidering the 2002 Saudi peace initiative, which calls for full Arab recognition of Israel if it gives up lands occupied in a 1967 war and accepts a solution for Palestinian refugees.
But this was the first time a representative of Israel was able to address Abdullah directly.
"Your Majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia, I was listening to your message," Peres said from the podium after the king spoke of the need for religious tolerance and said terrorism was the enemy of religion.
"I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people," Peres told Abdullah. "It's right, it's needed, it's promising."