In his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York Tuesday, Prince Mishal bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz underscored the importance of enhancing understanding and cooperation between nations.
The plenipotentiary of the Foreign Ministry pointed out that between 1975 and 2004, Saudi Arabia extended $498.6 million in aid to victims of natural disasters around the world. “In addition to that,” he said, “the kingdom has pledged to extend $1 billion as a contribution to the program of reconstruction of Iraq.” He further noted that the kingdom has added $430 million to an initial $90 million in assistance to victims of the Asian tsunami, and $250 million to Lebanon.
“The kingdom has not only contributed to humanitarian assistance through bilateral channels and direct means, but it has also contributed to the international humanitarian efforts through specialized programs and organizations, and moreover it has extended to the regional and international development institutions more than $24 billion,” Prince Mishal added.
The kingdom has pledged to extend $1 million to the UN Central Fund, while the Saudi Development Fund has contributed $4 million to the IMF’s emergency program for to help victims of natural disasters. Prince Mishal underscored the importance of such work in enhancing the concepts of humanity, equality, justice and sustainable development while also considering the health, educational, economic and social dimensions of the work, which help realize global stability, peace and security.
“There is an urgent need to the establishment of a partnership based on genuine cooperative contract and joint development convention between the north and south, and moreover there is an urgent need for increasing official humanitarian assistance,” he said. He called specifically for tackling the problem of debt of poor and semi-poor countries, increasing foreign investment, technology transfers to developing nations and free trade.
The prince noted that the kingdom has joined international efforts to fight poverty and famine and has extended a great deal of economic assistance through its national funds, regional and international agencies, and through bilateral agreements with specific developing countries.
“The kingdom believes in coexistence and humanitarian solidarity as well as in constructive cooperation for the sake of the entire people,” he said. The kingdom has extended grants and soft humanitarian assistance through various channels to the tune of more than $83.7 billion, he said. That figure, he pointed out, constitutes 4% of the kingdom’s GNP, one of the highest percentages worldwide. More than 87 developing countries are beneficiaries of Saudi aid.
“The assistance aims at boosting economic and social development, and helping these countries in developing their infrastructure projects,” the prince noted. He also pointed out that the kingdom has forgiven over $6 billion in debt from poor countries.
Prince Mishal noted that oil is considered an important strategic and economic commodity to both industrialized and developing countries. “Realizing this fact,” he said, “the kingdom has been wisely and reasonably tackling this issue so as to serve the interests of the oil-producing countries without disregarding the interests of the international community. The kingdom has been doing its best to ensure the stability of the oil prices and enhancing cooperation in this respect.”
To that end, “the kingdom has established the Riyadh-based Energy Forum which will work as a channel of cooperation and dialogue between the oil-producing and consuming countries,” he said.