At the economic summit of the Middle East and North Africa in Amman, Jordan, Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Osama Faqih in a speech yesterday conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz to all participants and wished for the success of the summit as a step towards just and lasting peace in the region.
Dr. Faqih stressed the Kingdom’s constant support of the Middle East peace process in accordance with international legitimacy as represented by UN Resolutions 242 and 338, saying that it was on this basis that King Fahd initiated his call for peace in the region, a call adopted during the Fez Arab Summit of 1982 and a turning point in the progress of the peace talks. Saudi Arabia continued its stance at the Madrid conference and at the multilateral negotiations that followed. Dr. Faqih said that in order for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa to share in security, peace and security, the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has never hesitated to express its utmost concern to free the entire region from all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, adding: “The achievement of such an objective also requires that Israel join all the international treaties which ban the production and accumulation of such weapons and allow its facilities to be subjected to international inspection.”
He also expressed the Kingdom’s view that a lasting and just peace in the Middle East is irreversible since countries in the region see it as a chance to develop their economies and raise the standard of living of their peoples, adding that the expansion of the Palestinian-Israeli agreement is an important step towards this goal, especially with Syria ready to fulfill the objective requirements. Israel must be urged by the international powers sponsoring the peace, to demonstrate its serious political will in order that the Lebanese and Syrian tracks witness real progress.
As for Jerusalem, the Kingdom’s policy is that it lies at the heart of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and without a just solution of the issue in the light of international legitimacy and UN Resolutions 242 and 252, no real peace will materialize. Israeli attempts to upset the demography of the city will have serious impact not only on the coming negotiations but also on the Middle East peace process as a whole.
Dr. Faqih highlighted the strong concern of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about development in the Arab and Islamic worlds, a concern reflected in the fact that it constitutes one of the main pillars of its foreign policy. He said: “Saudi Arabia has contributed over U.S. $ 70 billion for the economic benefit of Middle East and North African countries, in addition to over twenty-five percent of the monies establishing seven regional development funds. The Kingdom also participated in the international conference of donors held in Washington DC in October 1993 to fund the Palestinian Authority, contributing U.S. $100 million then and a further U.S. $ 100 million this year. In light of such tremendous Saudi funding of Middle East development, it is no longer acceptable to expect from the Kingdom any further financial burdens. Countries worldwide must get involved in funding the regional cooperation projects which will result from the Middle East peace process by increasing their financial contributions to meet such requirements. In this context,” Dr. Faqih continued, “the existing regional and international funding agencies can respond to the development needs and requirements of the region if they are wisely utilized. They can, for example, coordinate with the proposed Bank for Development and Cooperation.” Dr. Faqih stated that the Kingdom will therefore not participate in the establishment of such a bank, adding that Saudi Arabia will nevertheless make careful study of any proposed projects which aim at strengthening regional cooperation, although such matters usually concern the business community and do not call for official government obligations.
The day before, Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Kareem Al-Kabarti described the meeting of King Hussein and Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz in New York as reflecting the depth of the relations and fraternal ties binding the Kingdom and Jordan. Referring to these relations as setting an example among brotherly states, he praised the continued Saudi support for Jordan and for Arab solidarity, and the accomplishments of the Saudi economy and progress in development, in spite of the problems of recession, inflation and unemployment that plague most of the world’s countries.