Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal arrived in Cairo on Saturday to lead the Saudi delegation to the 14th meeting of foreign ministers of the countries of the Damascus Declaration. In a statement on arrival, he declared the meeting an important one which would endorse the Charter for Joint Arab Action drafted by senior officials. Referring to recent developments in the Middle East peace process, he expressed grave concern over the implications of Israel’s intransigent position and refusal to comply with the peace agreements.
At the end of the two-day meeting the foreign ministers issued a communique which reiterated full compliance with the resolutions of the Arab Summit Conference in Cairo on June 21-23, 1996 concerning Arab solidarity and the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace serving the higher interests of the Arab world.
Reconfirming their countries’ unwavering position on the Middle East peace process including the principles of the Madrid Conference and the concept of land-for-peace, the ministers called for full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, southern Lebanon, western Baka’a, and the holy city of Al-Quds [old Jerusalem], and for restoration of the national rights of the Palestinian people including that of self-determination and establishment of an independent state on their national soil. Expressing absolute support for Palestine’s stand, the ministers deplored Israeli attempts to retreat from previous obligations, and underscored the importance of resuming talks and realizing progress on all tracks. Citing international support for the Arab cause, the ministers praised recent positive statements by the European Union, and expressed particular appreciation of the role of France as well as the recent remarks of President Bill Clinton concerning Israel’s settlements policy.
Expressing complete sympathy with the Iraqi people, and putting full blame on the Iraqi regime for their plight, the ministers called on Iraq to implement the UN resolutions concerning its aggression against Kuwait and to take the necessary steps to free all detainees, return all property, and cooperate with the compensation process and with the international committee assigned to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
Reviewing developments in the Iranian occupation of the three islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the ministers expressed extreme regret that Iran still refrains from responding to the repeated calls for a peaceful solution, and stated that this threatens the peace and security of the region and contradicts the principles of international law. The ministers expressed particular concern at Iran’s deployment of missiles on these islands.
Citing the importance of achieving positive developments in Syrian-Turkish relations., the ministers called on Turkey to respect Arab rights to the waters of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Denouncing all kinds of terrorism, the ministers called for closer cooperation among member states to face up to fanaticism and the terrorist phenomenon, and assured full support for any state which faces such acts that threaten the stability and the development of the region. The ministers nevertheless emphasized the need to differentiate between acts of terrorism and legitimate national resistance to occupation and aggression.
In conclusion the communique stated the endorsement by the foreign ministers of the Charter of Joint Arab Action which was approved during their 12th meeting.