Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal held a press briefing in Jeddah today and began with a statement in which he extended condolences to the families of the victims of the acts of terrorism which have occurred recently in the Kingdom. He stressed that Saudi Arabia is resolved to use “an iron fist” in dealing with terrorists, and thanked all countries that have expressed support for the Kingdom. He affirmed the solidarity of Saudi citizens with the security forces that are confronting terrorism in the Kingdom, pointing out that the perpetrators of the terrorist acts are criminals and blasphemers, acting contrary to religion. As the Kingdom's Grand Mufti has said, they are infidels, since they kill for the sake of killing. All true Saudis, and especially the Muslim scholars, condemn the acts of terrorism.
In response to a question on remarks made by Crown Prince Abdullah earlier this week linking the terrorist attacks in the Kingdom with support from international Zionism, Prince Saud stated that there is no doubt that extremist Zionist groups all over the world are engaged in launching a fierce campaign against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is no secret, he said, that the exiled Saudi dissidents Mohammed Al-Maasari and Saad Al-Faqih, with whom the leader of the most recent attack [in Yanbu] had strong links, and whose so-called ‘Reformation Movement’ is based in London, U.K., receive financing from parties affiliated to Israel.
Addressing the issue of the security of foreigners in the Kingdom, Prince Saud declared that measures to protect visitors and expatriates in the Kingdom are as tight as those provided for the protection of Saudi citizens, and are considered among the best in the world. Saudi Arabia, he said, is doing the best it can to protect all expatriates, and hoped that the United States and Great Britain will be convinced that their citizens are safe in the Kingdom, noting that many Americans and Britons have expressed confidence in the measures taken and stated their desire to stay in spite of warnings from their governments.
Concerning the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States, Prince Saud affirmed that it is based on mutual interests and long-term friendship. The recent media attack on the Kingdom, he said, only shows that the average American’s unclear vision needs to be clarified. Saudi-U.S. relations, for example, are not affected by the current situation of rising oil prices, and the Kingdom’s concern remains to maintain moderation in the global oil market. Referring to a comment he had made during his recent visit to the United States, he explained that U.S. complicity opened the way for people such as Osama bin Laden through support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to resist Soviet aggression. He added that bin Laden adopted terrorism not because of the education he had received in the Kingdom but because of the directions he had received from a deviant group, a splinter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which existed in Afghanistan.
As for the Kingdom’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Prince Saud gave assurances that this will be achieved by the end of this year, citing the successes accomplished by the Saudi negotiating team, and declaring that there are only a few specific points remaining before the Saudi-U.S. negotiators.
On the Palestinian issue, Prince Saud declared that the Kingdom expects the next meeting of the International Quartet Committee to resume the initiative and present positive ideas to revive the peace process in accordance with the ‘roadmap’ and its references, and to force Israel to live up to its pledges towards the initiative based on the rules of international legitimacy, the United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace as endorsed at the Madrid conference. He emphasized the importance of providing protection for the Palestinians against Israel’s aggressive practices through the disengagement of the two parties by deploying international forces under the umbrella of the United Nations, as is the case in other areas of conflict in the world. The latest stance of the Likud Party, he said, proves that Israeli government policy aims at annexing more Palestinian territories and displacing the people.
Asked about Israel’s nuclear arms, Prince Saud reiterated the Arab position demanding that the region be free from all weapons of mass destruction, and commented that in spite of strictness with other countries concerning this issue, Israel's possession of such weapons is overlooked. He expressed the hope that the upcoming visit to Israel by head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Muhammad Al-Baradei will highlight the danger posed by Israel's possession of nuclear weapons.
Asked about the postponement of the Arab Summit, Prince Saud commented that he does not believe there were major differences among the participants, and pointed out that the postponement has allowed in-depth study of a number of important topics concerning the Palestinian issue and the situation in Iraq.
On Iraq, Prince Saud called for a swift and genuine transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, underlined the importance of the involvement of the United Nations in the transitional period, and urged the occupation authorities to put an end to the horrific violations of the rights of Iraqi prisoners and punish those responsible for them.