Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and the Syrian foreign minister Farooq Al-Shara held a joint press conference in Riyadh today following the tenth session of Saudi-Syrian talks. Prince Saud commented that all Arab countries support the Middle East peace process, having suffered from the effects of Israel's policies, and welcomed the remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush concerning the creation of an independent Palestinian state. On the so-called 'Burns Plan', he expressed reservations, especially on account of the lack of equality in the duties imposed on the two sides. "In our view," he said, "responsibility should be laid on the one who caused the current cycle of violence." This, he added, is clearly Israel. He also expressed hope for the effectiveness of the Arab Initiative, which, in his opinion, should have begun with the creation of the Palestinian state, which will, however, come about through negotiation. Concerning a strike against Iraq, Prince Saud declared: "I believe that the two countries [Saudi Arabia and Syria] have more than once stated their position that Iraq should be spared any strike. This is not new."
The session's communiqué expressed satisfaction with cooperation at all levels, political, economic and cultural, stating that Saudi Arabia and Syria had agreed to hold the next round of negotiations on the draft agreement on avoidance of duplicate taxation before the end of this year, and to hold a meeting of businessmen in Syria in the second half of next year to discuss investment opportunities in various fields.
In the political field, the two countries affirmed that they stand by the Palestinian people to set up an independent Palestinian state, calling on the international community and in particular the United Nations Security Council to put pressure on Israel to stop its aggression. The communiqué stressed that the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by the Arab Summit in Beirut provides the basis for signing a peace treaty that ensures Israel's withdrawal from all Arab occupied lands including Al-Quds [East Jerusalem], the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and the remaining parts of southern Lebanon. The communiqué expressed concern at the law issued by the U.S. Congress considering Jerusalem to be the capital of the State of Israel, considering this law to contradict UN Security Council resolutions that call for maintaining the legal and demographic position of Al-Quds.