Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal held a briefing in Jeddah today, and expressed the Kingdom's appreciation of the support and solidarity expressed by brotherly and friendly governments in regard to the recent criminal terrorist attack in Al-Khobar. He stressed that wicked acts like this will not discourage Saudi Arabia in its determination to fight the deviant group that continues to kill and violate the sanctity of life, targeting in a cowardly fashion easy targets, and that is isolated, religiously, socially and intellectually. Expressing pride in the Saudi security forces who gave priority to saving the lives of the hostages, he gave assurances that the terrorists who escaped will be found and arrested, and that measures have been taken to ensure the safety and security of all residents and citizens. He reiterated the government’s resolve to hunt down all members of the deviant group who are wreaking havoc on the earth: those who repent, however, will be tried in accordance with the religion. Combating terrorism, he added, is an international responsibility, and those who are proven guilty of links with terrorist groups, such as the so-called opposition party in London, U.K., should be extradited to the authorities requesting them. Referring to the dissolution of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, he pointed out that the government had taken that decision to ensure that humanitarian aid provided by citizens and residents reaches those intended and is not exploited for other purposes.
On the latest developments in Iraq, Prince Saud said the Kingdom welcomed the formation of the new Iraqi leadership and congratulated Iraq's President Shaikh Ghazi Al-Yawar and his two Vice-Presidents; and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the members of his cabinet. He expressed the hope that the Iraqi government would win the confidence of the Iraqi people, meeting their ambitions to form a legitimate government, end the occupation, restore Iraq's full national authority, sovereignty and independence, and provide security and stability. He also hoped that the draft resolution currently being deliberated at the United Nations Security Council will activate the pivotal UN role and support the transfer of full authority to the new Iraqi government. To a question on deployment of Saudi or Arab troops to Iraq, he affirmed that this could only be done upon a request from an independent and legitimate Iraqi government. There is currently no Saudi diplomatic representation in Baghdad, he said, due to security concerns, but the Kingdom has not severed relations with Iraq.
On the Middle East peace process, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom reaffirmed its stance calling for Israel’s withdrawal from all Arab territories, noting that any arrangements in this regard should be in accord with the United Nations resolutions, the ‘roadmap’, the Arab peace initiative, and the principles of the Madrid conference. He called for reviving the role of the International Quartet Committee to activate the peace process, lift the siege imposed on the Palestinians, and provide protection through international peacekeeping forces.
Addressing reform in the region, Prince Saud reiterated that this should come from within the states concerned, commenting that the countries of the Middle East are not in need of opinions on how to reach democracy or shura [consultation]. Saudi Arabia, he said, is fortunate in its resources, and can depend on itself to introduce the reforms that it sees appropriate at the economic and political level.