Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal discussed the crisis in Lebanon in remarks at an event hosted by the New American Foundation at Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC last night.
In his remarks, Prince Turki called on the international community to move quickly to end the war in Lebanon, protect the Lebanese people and support the Lebanese government as it seeks to establish its authority throughout the country.
In particular, Prince Turki urged international leaders, especially the US and the UN, to send an international force to Lebanon that will help the Lebanese government extend its authority.
While Saudi Arabia holds Hizballah responsible for the crisis, the Israeli response was excessive, Prince Turki said.
“Saudi Arabia holds firmly responsible those who first engaged in reckless adventure under the guise of resistance. They have brought much damage and danger to the region without concern for others,” he said.
“However, these unacceptable and irresponsible actions do not justify the Israeli destruction of Lebanon or the targeting and punishment of the Lebanese and Palestinian civilian populations.”
A lasting peace requires balancing the interests of all parties so that they feel they have achieved something without losing face, Prince Turki remarked. “The question for us today is how to arrive at that point of balance – through the continued ruthless exercise of power or under the umbrella of a cease fire,” he noted.
Prince Turki said that Saudi Arabia has been working tirelessly to generate support for a cease-fire and a lasting peace. To that end, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal delivered a letter to President Bush requesting US help to save Lebanon. The Kingdom had sent an earlier message to President Bush two months ago calling for peace in the region, but sadly there was no follow-through.
Saudi Arabia has also provided aid to Lebanon to alleviate the misery, including $50 million in urgent relief assistance, a generous aid package consisting of $500 million in grants and a $1 billion deposit to the Central Bank of Lebanon.
“The Kingdom is doing what it can – brokering peace and providing aid. We understand that we live in an age in which the problems of one nation or one people are the problems of the world,” Prince Turki said.
“The United States must play the role of pacifier and lead the world to peace and not be led by Israel’s ambitions.”