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Saudis, Kuwaitis Honor Passport With Israel Stamp, Senator Says

<i> Times Wire Services</i>

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) said Thursday that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have honored a passport bearing an Israeli entry stamp for what he believes to be the first time.

All Arab countries except Egypt have refused to admit foreigners with passports stamped by Israel, forcing visitors to get a second passport to enter those countries. The practice is related to the Arabs’ longstanding economic boycott of Israel.

“I want to announce today that I traveled to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with a passport that I had previously used to travel to the state of Israel,” Lieberman told journalists at the U.S. Embassy.

The senator arrived in Israel on Thursday after visiting Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on a trip to examine progress in fighting oil well fires in Kuwait.

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In Washington, a source close to the Saudi government confirmed the precedent--one accented by the fact that Lieberman is Jewish--saying it marked a significant policy change. But this source said the shift is not being publicly announced because of possible adverse reaction in Saudi Arabia.

In March, another Jewish senator, Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), had to get a new passport with no Israeli stamps after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait barred his entry.

The Saudis have proposed that the economic boycott of Israel be ended in exchange for a halt to Israeli development of Jewish settlements in occupied territory.


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