Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz discussed a number of issues in a wide-ranging interview with Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday, including the Middle East peace process, Lebanon, Iraq, the economy and oil prices.
King Abdullah expressed his disappointment about the general lack of interest in the Middle East peace process and the failure to act on initiatives such as the Arab Peace Initiative, which he proposed in 2002.
Commenting on the peace process, the King noted that circumstances have changed and that regional issues are ill defined, making a clear vision difficult. “The Kingdom’s policy is to wait until a clear vision materializes, but at the same time we work along with all friends and all concerned to forge essential and fundamental solutions for these problems which threaten the stability of the region and the world at large,” he said.
King Abdullah reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support Lebanon as it seeks to rebuild. “Support for Lebanon is the duty of all of us,” he said. “Whoever falls short of supporting Lebanon is in fact falling short of supporting himself, his Arab nation and humanity.”
On Iraq, King Abdullah said that he felt great sorrow for the people of Iraq and the tragedies they are facing, and that he hopes the nation will be able to overcome its difficulties and regain its proper place in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
The King also emphasized the importance of Arab relations. “I respect whoever respects me and respect even those who disagree with me,” the King said. “They deserve my respect as long as this disagreement is for the benefit of the nation and not triggered by narrow personal interests.”
Turning to oil prices, King Abdullah said that Saudi Arabia’s policy is to keep prices moderate. “I wonder why the market is fluctuating and why the prices are reaching unjustified heights since oil output is abundant,” he said.
He also praised the strength of the Saudi economy and said that the Kingdom’s doors are open to investors. “They are welcome,” he noted.
On terrorism, the King praised security forces’ actions August 21 that resulted in the arrests of four suspected militants in Jeddah. He requested that none of the militants be killed in the operation. “The souls of citizens are valuable including those of the deviant group,” he said.
King Abdullah also touched on his recent state visits to Asia and Turkey, noting that they did not represent a policy shift and were in the interests of the Kingdom. In addition, he lauded as the Kingdom’s great strides in the field of education and the relationship between the Saudi people and their government.