Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal today left Tokyo after a three-day state visit to Japan, undertaken at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart Yukihiko Ekido. The two foreign ministers issued a joint statement that expressed continued support for the Middle East peace process, and also emphasized the necessity for Iraq to comply fully with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, while welcoming the recent oil-for-food agreement signed by the United Nations and Iraq in the framework of Resolution 986.
The two foreign ministers held extensive talks that were conducted in a cordial, open and constructive atmosphere. They discussed cooperation between their two countries, and explored ways of enhancing this in political, economic, technical, and cultural fields, agreeing that the upcoming meeting of the Saudi/Japanese Joint Commission be held as soon as possible. Moreover, the Japanese foreign minister renewed invitations to visit Tokyo extended to both Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. Thanking him for the kind invitations, Prince Saud Al-Faisal invited the Japanese foreign minister to visit the Kingdom, and it was agreed that a date would be set through diplomatic channels.
Also discussed were regional and international issues of mutual interest. On the Middle East peace process, the two foreign ministers reaffirmed support, calling for full implementation of all articles of the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements, expressing hope that progress will soon be made on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and welcoming the understanding reached on April 26, following the tragic events in South Lebanon, as the first step towards implementation of UN Resolution 425.
As for the United Nations, both sides emphasized the need for reform of the organization and expansion of membership in the Security Council, with Prince Saud Al-Faisal welcoming the readiness of Japan to assume the responsibilities of membership in the framework of the proposed reformation, in view of its tremendous economic and political weight in the international arena.
Earlier, Prince Saud Al-Faisal had granted an interview to the Japanese newspaper ‘Yomi Yori’ in which he referred to the Kingdom’s support of Japan as a member of the UN Security Council. He also referred to the upcoming economic agreement renewing the oil and gas trade between the two countries, and stated the Kingdom’s interest in the establishment of a Saudi/Japanese refinery, pointing out that Saudi Arabia has concluded similar agreements with a number of East Asian countries including the Philippines and South Korea, and is negotiating one with China.
In the interview, Prince Saud discussed relations between the GCC countries and Iran, and hoped for an Iranian policy towards the GCC that is based on cooperation, mutual interest, good neighborliness, and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states. He called on Iran to respond to the UAE’s repeated calls for a peaceful settlement through international arbitration of the dispute over the three Gulf islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa. Concerning Japan’s policy towards Iran, Prince Saud said that every independent state has the right to pursue its own policies towards any other country, and expressed regret that the danger that threatens security in the Gulf comes from inside the region and not outside. Prince Saud expressed satisfaction over the positive role of Japan during the Kuwait liberation war and said that it was to be hoped that Japan would be able to continue to play a substantial role in international efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Gulf region and to guarantee the safety of its navigation.
While welcoming the recent agreement reached by the UN Security Council and Iraq on Resolution 986 concerning the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people, Prince Saud made it clear that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other states of the region want to see full implementation of all resolutions relating to the vicious Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, including those concerned with elimination of weapons of mass destruction and Resolution 687 calling for Iraq to prove its good intentions towards peace and stability in the region, saying: “What is required now, once the humanitarian problems are resolved, is that the Security Council maintain pressure to guarantee and follow up implementation of other resolutions; we should not forget that even after the Gulf War was over, Iraq again mobilized troops along its borders with Kuwait, and there could have been serious implications if a firm stand had not been taken at that time.”
Asked to comment on the decision of Oman to establish relations with Israel, Prince Saud said that recognition is among the rights of sovereignty of independent countries and all GCC states are independent. On whether Saudi Arabia would establish relations with Israel, Prince Saud stated that of much greater importance is that a comprehensive, just and lasting peace be established, citing with satisfaction the positive contributions made by the Kingdom to accelerate the Middle East peace efforts even before the Madrid conference during which the current peace process was launched. He went on to express dismay at the Israeli handling of the Palestinian question and at their methods of collective punishment, and at the blind bombardment of Lebanon that is being pursued by Israel, saying such policies would certainly delay the peace process. He hoped the Israeli-Palestinian self-rule agreement would be fully implemented, and called on the Israelis to honor their obligation towards this agreement. He pointed out that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is calling for the convention of a new Madrid Conference, and first did so at the Sharm Al-Shaikh summit earlier this year. There has been no negative reaction to this from any party.