Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, left London today after a four-day official visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Before he left, a joint press statement was issued.
During his visit, the Crown Prince was received by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at her palace of Balmoral Castle in Scotland. After the luncheon in his honor on Monday, Her Majesty invested him with the Order of Bath, a high-ranking medal granted only to foreign dignitaries, in recognition of the deep-rooted and strong relations binding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Great Britain.
Back in London, Crown Prince Abdullah held talks with Heir Apparent Prince Charles, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, and with the leaders of the political parties. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, speaking at a press conference yesterday, referred to the Crown Prince's talks with Prime Minister Blair as excellent, and comprehensive, revealing identical viewpoints and covering developments in the Middle East, in particular the peace process.
Yesterday evening the Crown Prince held a meeting with the ambassadors to Britain from the GCC member states and Arab countries. Speaking on the occasion, the Crown Prince gave assurances on the good health of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz. He then reiterated the Kingdom's determination to go ahead in its policy of serving Arab and Muslim causes. Crown Prince Abdullah remarked that his seven-country tour will provide him with a good opportunity to clarify the Kingdom's point of view on many problems, saying: "We are an indivisible part of the Arab world, and our major problem is that of Palestine and Jerusalem." He went on to say: "I have made it clear during my talks with British officials that realization of a comprehensive and just peace will serve the interests not only of the Arabs, but also of Israel."
Crown Prince Abdullah noted that the Arabs are anxious to realize peace, and remarked that it is high time for Israel to do the same if it is concerned with stability in the region. The Crown Prince deplored the repressive measures taken by the Israeli authorities against the Palestinians, referring to such brutal and barbaric measures as unacceptable. He said that Israel would be making a mistake if it thought that the Arabs were calling for peace out of weakness and inability to fight, remarking: "If Israel goes ahead in its intransigent policy, then in the long run the Arabs will triumph."
Referring to King Fahd's solemn pledge to work for Arab and Muslim causes, Crown Prince Abdullah stated: "In the Kingdom we let deeds speak for themselves and never resort to the various kinds of propaganda through the mass media. The Kingdom never works to harm any Arab or any Muslim, and never interferes in the domestic affairs of others, because we are governed by the noble values of Islam."
For his part, Saudi Ambassador to the Court of St. James Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi welcomed Crown Prince abdullah and his accompanying delegation, highlighting the Crown Prince's efforts for the development of the National Guard, adding that the National Festival for Heritage and Culture which it organizes annually has become an important event. The Lebanese Ambassador, who is dean of the diplomatic corps in London, praised the Kingdom's dedication to Arab and Muslim causes, citing the number of Arabs in the U.K. as about 400,000 and the number of Muslims at over two million.
Bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Great Britain have always been characterized by common interests and mutual respect. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1953, the year that then-Prince Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz visited London to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The first visit of a Saudi King to Great Britain was that of King Faisal Ibn Abdul Aziz in 1967, and Queen Elizabeth herself visited Saudi Arabia in 1979. Her son, Prince Charles, visited the Kingdom in March of 1997, and attended the National Guard's Festival of Culture and Heritage at Jenadriyah.