2003 Transcript

Crown Prince Abdullah interviewed by Russian News Agency
Prior to his departure from Moscow on September 4, 2003 after a four-day state visit to the Russian Federation, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz gave an interview to the Russina News Agency 'Interfax'. The following are excerpts from the transcript, translated from the Arabic.

Q.       This is your highness' first visit to Russia.  How do you evaluate the outcome of your negotiations and the bilateral agreements signed between the two countries?

A. First, I would like to thank President Vladimir Putin for his invitation to visit the Russian Federation, which comes in the framework of strengthening bilateral relations between our two countries and exploring ways to bind and develop cooperation in all areas.  In this respect various bilateral agreements have been signed, aimed at reinforcing the earnest directives of our two governments to develop economical and other relations.  In addition to that, there was discussion of an array of international and regional issues of concern to both of us.

Q.   What is your assessment of the proposed settlement for the Middle East conflict and implementation of the roadmap?  In the opinion of the Saudi leadership, what is the role that Russia can play in the current phase of the Middle East peace process?

A.    Unfortunately, while the entire world is supporting the quartet and the roadmap peace plan initiated for the sole purpose of resolving the Middle East conflict, Israel continues to challenge the United Nations and its principles and to block all initiatives designed to reach a just and comprehensive solution, by adopting repressive policies, mounting assassinations and taking unilateral measures such as blocking and seizing Palestinian territories, building settlements and the security barrier, thus undermining the peace process and rendering it meaningless.

       Russia, as a member of the quartet, is expected to exert all possible efforts to ensure implementation of the roadmap, and adherence of all concerned parties to implementing all phases of the plan.  It should also urge Israel to stop procrastinating as to fulfillment of the commitments set forth by the roadmap peace plan and the preceding initiatives, including the Arab peace initiative adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut that called for pursuing just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its national capital.

Q.   Is the Kingdom willing to join the efforts of stabilizing and reconstructing post-war Iraq?  And what is the position of Riyadh in regard to the continuing presence of foreign troops in Iraq?

A.  The Kingdom has never missed an opportunity to support international efforts aimed at bringing stability to Iraq.  In supporting these efforts the Kingdom concentrates on two main objectives: the first is to alleviate the suffering of the people of Iraq and the second is to maintain the unity, independence, sovereignty and regional integrity of Iraq.  We are continuing this policy; and the Kingdom was one of the first countries to send relief  convoys immediately after the cease of military operations.  In addition, the Kingdom welcomed the Security Council resolution to lift the sanctions against Iraq and strengthen the role of the United Nations in Iraq.  Moreover, the Kingdom has lately received a delegation from the transitional Governing Council in Iraq.

Q.   What is your comment on the allegations leveled by some in the United States that Saudi Arabia was involved in the 9/11 attacks, and that various Saudi charities have been financing militant Islamic groups?

A.   These voices and the allegations they present are not based on any evidence or any logical rationale.  The Kingdom is among the first countries ever to be targeted by terrorists, and it is unfortunate that it still is a target of terrorism.  Despite the intentions behind these allegations, Saudi Arabia will continue for the sake of its own interests to pursue decisive policies and measures aimed at combating all forms of terrorism.  Furthermore, the Kingdom will combat all statements, actions or incitements encouraging, or even sympathizing with terrorism.  All this is important in maintaining national security and the safety of the people.  The Kingdom will spare no effort in supporting international efforts to redouble cooperation and coordination among the international community in the fight against terrorism, drying out sources of terrorist financing and making sure that terrorism is eradicated once and for all.  These efforts are called for because this dangerous phenomenon is indiscriminatingly threatening our common security as well as international stability.