1996 News Story

Prince Saud Al-Faisal in Cairo for pre-Summit meeting

Prince Saud-Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Cairo yesterday to attend today's preparatory meeting of foreign ministers, and stated that the positive response of the Arab countries to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's call for the convening of this Arab Summit was a reason for optimism that the conference will forge a unified Arab position on the issues to be discussed. Asked about the pivotal role of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz in forging Arab solidarity and the importance of coordination between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud said King Fahd and President Mubarak have both exerted strenuous efforts in this connection and the call to convene this summit was part of this. Asked if the Cairo Summit would represent a shift towards Arab reconciliation, he said: "Naturally, we hope that the positive response by the Arab states and their attendance at this important conference will signal a move to the right way of Arabs working together". The Saudi Foreign Minister described the statement given by new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyaho at the Knesset last Tuesday as "negative" and stressed the need to realize peace in the Middle East, a peace which it has not enjoyed for half a century.

After the meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers, Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs Amr Moussa reported that they had resolved that the summit of their leaders should urge an immediate resumption of the peace talks with Israel based on the principle of land-for-peace that has underpinned five years of negotiations; on the principles reached in Madrid; and on the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The peace process began with the 1991 meeting in Madrid, Spain, which set the basis of the talks; Resolutions 242 and 338 both urge the return of captured Arab land as a condition of peace; and Resolution 425 appeals to Israel to end its occupation of southern Lebanon. Minister Moussa stated that although there is concern about statements made by the newly-elected Israeli leader, the draft communiqué for the summit would advocate giving him time to work out his policies, saying: "There will be no messages that are threats or warnings, but what I am saying is that it takes two parties to establish and save the peace process. We would like him [Netanyaho] to reconsider his guidelines and documents, which are upsetting and threatening to the peace process and to all of us."

Minister Moussa stated that the two main issues for the summit would be the peace process, and Arab unity, and that other topics for discussion would include the status of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Palestinian refugees, and the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Golan Heights and from Lebanon. He said that it was his hope that the twenty-one Arab leaders attending the sessions on Saturday and Sunday would accept the draft communiqué being prepared by the Foreign Ministers.