Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw today opened the second Saudi-British “Two Kingdoms: Friendship and Partnership” conference, which is currently underway in Riyadh.
In opening remarks, Prince Saud drew attention to the close Saudi-British ties and economic cooperation between the two kingdoms. He noted that trade between the two countries continues to increase, and that British capital invested in Saudi projects totals SR 4 billion [$1.1 billion]. He suggested that perhaps it is time to establish a joint investment holding company that would be formed by the private sector of both countries and have an agreed-upon capital.
Cooperation also extends to counterterrorism, he said. Saudi Arabia and Britain, along with other nations, are full partners in the fight to eradicate terrorism. In addition, Saudi Arabia is looking forward to UK support for its proposal to establish an international counterterrorism center under the auspices of the UN.
Saudi Arabia and Britain share similar views on many global and regional political issues, Prince Saud said.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom believes the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by King Abdullah is the only concrete plan that can offer an end to the conflict. The Kingdom hopes that Israelis and Palestinians will endorse the plan and take the necessary steps to implement it. Unilateral solutions will only aggravate the crisis, he warned.
Also, withholding economic aid from the democratically elected Palestinian government will only compound the suffering of the Palestinian people. “To have a positive effect on any individual or group logic dictates that continuous dialogue and engagement is the only sure way, rather than exclusion and isolation,” he noted.
On Iraq, Prince Saud that both Saudi Arabia and Britain agree that the suffering of the Iraqi people must end, and that a strong unified government is the only way to ensure Iraq’s stability and prosperity. In that vein, the Arab League encourages a continuation of the national dialogue among all Iraqis, the first of which was held in Cairo.
The two kingdoms also agree that the Middle East – including Israel – must be free of all weapons of mass destruction, Prince Saud said. The present crisis with Iran should be resolved through peaceful negotiation, he said.
Transcript of Prince Saud’s remarks