NEW YORK - President Shimon Peres praised the Saudi-led Arab peace initiative in his speech at the United Nations Wednesday, delivered in the framework of the interfaith dialogue summit in New York. Both Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are attending the conference, which was opened with an address by Saudi King Abdullah.
"We cannot change the past," Peres said in his speech. "However, we can shape our future. This seems more feasible today in light of the Saudi proposal which evolved into an Arab peace initiative. The initiative’s portrayal of our region’s future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in the nations."
Conference participants are discussing the "culture of peace," yet the hopes for a handshake between Peres and Saudi Arabia's king did not materialize.
At the outset of his speech, Peres made note of the 13th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.
"Assassins may take a life, but they cannot kill a dream," he said. "That fateful night at the square, we stood together and sang of peace, the aspiration of my people for generations."
"Tragedy had united the sons and daughters of all religions," Peres added. "Our shared agony shed light on our shared hopes, our hunger for fraternity, the dream of peace which we nurtured in our hearts."
The president quoted sections of the Arab peace initiative, saying they are "inspirational and promising" and characterizing them as "a serious opening for real progress."
"A comprehensive regional peace requires the completion of the bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians and sharing the painful cost. We are ready for this as we have proved many times in the past," he said.