Mr. President: It gives me pleasure to congratulate you on your election as President of the Sixtieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I am confident that your personal attributes, as well as the international status of your friendly country, Sweden, will play a great role in the success of this session.
I would also like to express my appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jean Ping, who managed the business of the previous session with wisdom and expertise. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our support and appreciation for His Excellency, the Secretary General of the United Nations, for his efforts to reinvigorate the role of the international organization in today’s world. It is an organization that is in dire need of advancing the principles of the international legitimacy, fostering international cooperation and ensuring full commitment to the United Nations’ Charter.
Mr. President: Today’s world is still facing the dangers of international terrorism, which threatens us all. It is imperative that we make a collective international effort to combat terrorism and the extremist mindset that spawns it, and foster the values of tolerance, dialogue and moderation among different cultures.
The diligent international effort to fight terrorism and combat extremism cannot succeed unless it is followed by sincere efforts to eradicate the sources of tension that spread feelings of injustice and malice. People who are deprived of their lawful rights will become a reservoir for recruiting extremists to join the ranks of terrorists.
Respect for resolutions and the principles of international legitimacy is the only way to solve persistent international conflicts and eliminate the sources of tension. Moreover, preventing terrorists from exploiting the feelings of despair and disappointment instilled in people by injustice, aggression and occupation is inextricably linked to our ability to reach a just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This confirms the importance of combining all our efforts in order to bring the Middle East peace process back to life. It is a process that has long been hampered by double standards in a way that has subjected U.N. principles and resolutions to continuous violation.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has followed very closely the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. We anticipate that this move will be followed by serious steps towards withdrawal from all Arab territory occupied since 1967, and lead to the realization of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.
The Arabs have reiterated their commitment to a just and lasting peace through the Arab Peace Initiative, which emphasizes security and normalization of relations for all in return for withdrawal from all Arab lands occupied since 1967. This initiative complements the Road Map for Peace and solidifies the principles of international legitimacy.
Mr. President: Our success in the war on terrorism depends on its comprehensiveness, in which the security, political, intellectual and public awareness aspects complement each other. Mindful of this, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took the initiative last February to organize the International Counter-terrorism Conference, which was attended by officials and experts from law enforcement agencies as well as international and regional organizations from more than 60 countries affected by terrorism.
The Riyadh Declaration issued by the conference emphasized the unity of the international will in confronting terrorism and extremism, and made practical recommendations for the various aspects of counter-terrorism and how to enhance multilateral cooperation.
Many of the Riyadh Declaration’s recommendations and conclusions were incorporated into the resolutions of subsequent international conferences, including the Arab Summit in Algeria, the Summit of Arab and South American States in Brazil and the meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Yemen.
The most prominent recommendation issued by the conference was the proposal by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz to establish an International Counter-terrorism Center, a proposal that was widely welcomed.
The proposed center is intended to reinforce, not replace, existing United Nations counter-terrorism efforts, as well as Interpol and regional centers. We believe a strong stand in the United Nations in this respect will strengthen its role in fighting terrorism.
The exchange of information between nations will remain voluntary and in a manner that ensures that each country maintains independent security sources and retains its right to determine the information it will provide and how such information will be used. Information can be exchanged collectively or bilaterally, based on the circumstances. The International Counter-terrorism Center will link the national and regional centers by a central database that allows information to be securely exchanged and updated in a timely manner, especially in tracking down terrorists and obstructing their organizations.
The center will support the voluntary exchange and transfer of the technology and training needed to fight and prevent terrorism; coordination in drafting and exchanging legislation and appropriate measures; cooperation in education, the media, and fostering public awareness of the dangers of terrorism and the importance of combating it; and the significance of not promoting an ideology that incites terrorism. These objectives conform to the resolution adopted recently by the Security Council.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia proposes establishing a task force under the supervision of the United Nations. This task force will include experts from the U.N. Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) and the countries that participated in the Riyadh conference. The objectives of the task force will be to review the recommendations of the Riyadh Declaration and the proposal to establish an International Counter-terrorism Center, and to submit a comprehensive report with practical recommendations to the next session of the General Assembly in September 2006. We are confident that this draft resolution will earn your support.
Mr. President: As for achieving peace and security, the Kingdom emphasizes once more the importance of abiding by the principles of the U.N. Charter and fostering international legitimacy, as well as avoiding being led towards unilateral measures in the use of force, applying double standards in the imposition of sanctions or taking selective measures in the field of disarmament and nonproliferation. The Kingdom also emphasizes the importance of abiding by the resolutions issued by the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) related to ensuring that the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf areas are free of weapons of mass destruction.
We express our deep sorrow and concern over the deteriorating security situation in some areas of Iraq that witness horrifying acts of violence, bombings and kidnappings. We are concerned by increasing calls for sectarianism in Iraq, which would, God forbid, would lead Iraq into greater suffering. Faced with this painful reality, we can only express our hope that the Iraqi constitution will meet the aspirations of the Iraqi people and preserve the country’s unity, independence and Arab and Islamic identity in a way that guarantees equality in rights and obligations for all the citizens of fraternal Iraq. We call upon our brothers in Iraq to overcome their differences and work collectively in order to give national interest precedence over factional interests. Our brothers in Iraq should strive to achieve a broad-based national consensus that would enable them to strengthen their country’s security, integrity, national unity and independence so that Iraq can reassume its positive and active role in the international, Arab and Islamic arenas.
Mr. President: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accords great importance to sustainable development that balances human development with the preservation of the environment. Although the Kingdom is a developing country that is experiencing a rapid rate of population growth, which necessitates increasing financial investment in infrastructure and human development, it has over the last three decades contributed 4% of its annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in foreign aid and soft loans. Eighty-three countries have benefited from these two forms of aid. The Kingdom is also one of the biggest contributors to more than 14 international and regional organizations. With respect to debt relief, Saudi Arabia has already forgiven over $6 billion in debt owed to it by a number of least developed countries, and has contributed its full share to the International Monetary Fund’s debt reduction initiative fund.
The Kingdom renews its call for the developed countries to honor their commitment to allocate the agreed-upon percentage to development assistance, to provide debt relief to the neediest countries, and to open up their markets to exports from developing countries without the imposition of unjustified restrictions.
Based on the its position in the oil market, the Kingdom always seeks to ensure international market stability in a way that serves consumers, producers and the growth of the global economy. Although the current problem is more one of refining capacity and increasing demand than a supply problem, the Kingdom has been determined to assure consumers of a steady supply. It has increased its production capacity to meet any potential shortages and has sought to lower the price of its oil exports in the wake of the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina.
Determined to ensure openness and integration in the global trade system, the Kingdom sought to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) to become involved in that organization’s decision-making process, especially since my country’s economy is considered to be the largest free economy outside the WTO. It is of great importance that the WTO’s universality be achieved, as soon as possible, by assisting countries interested in joining the organization to do so by easing accession conditions and providing them with the adequate flexibility to suit their development situation, as well as emphasizing that accession would take place in accordance with the organization’s approved covenants. These countries should not to be required to fulfill any obligations in excess of what other members are required to fulfill. We in the Kingdom are looking forward to finalizing WTO accession procedures before the end of this year.
Mr. President: The level of international changes and challenges the international community faces today requires a reexamination of the U.N.’s current structure and operations in order to enhance its ability to create peace, not simply keep it. The Kingdom believes that any change in the Security Council’s structure should be achieved by consensus and should aim to reinvigorate its peacemaking role, and that fair geographical representation inside the Council should lead to increased efficiency and transparency.
Among the important reforms in this regard is a pledge by permanent members of the Security Council not to invoke their veto against the implementation of previously adopted resolutions. It is also important to achieve an ideal balance between the General Assembly and the Security Council, to promote the role of the Economic and Social Council and to support coordination among the U.N.’s funds, programs and activities.
The role of the U.N. is indispensable in today’s world, which is in dire need of support and solidarity to create just solutions to persistent global problems through respect for human values, traditions and principles, as well as to enhancing constructive cooperation and to achieving security, peace and prosperity for all nations.