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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Syria's Assad to Discuss Saudi Plan

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to Saudi Arabia this week could make or break Crown Prince Abdullah's intriguing Middle East peace initiative.

The kingdom's de facto ruler said last month the Arab world should establish full ties with Israel if the Jewish state gives up all the Arab land it seized in the 1967 Middle East war.

Assad flies to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to explore the prince's thinking. Given Syria's pivotal role in the conflict with Israel, their talks could decide whether Abdullah submits his ideas to an Arab summit in Beirut later this month.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa nipped in ahead of Assad, flying to Jeddah on Monday to meet Prince Abdullah for pre-summit consultations with Arab powers.

Diplomats and analysts say Syria, a "frontline" state demanding the return of the Golan Heights, is quite capable of undermining or sabotaging the plan that Abdullah has dangled, but not yet elaborated.

Assad, conscious of the unyielding legacy of his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, may not have made up his mind.

But if Assad feels Syria's concerns are fully considered, he might well back the Saudi plan, Patrick Seale, the elder Assad's British biographer, believes.

The Saudi plan has drawn a warm world response and cautious interest from Israel. Most Arab states have welcomed it, with only Libya, outside the Arab mainstream, openly hostile.