2006 Transcript

Transcript of Prince Turki interview with CNN International's Jim Clancy
Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal interview with CNN International's Jim Clancy, October 31, 2006

JIM CLANCY: Looking on from outside Iraq's borders, the country's neighbors are concerned about the situation there. We talked with the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US Turki Al-Faisal a little bit earlier and he gave us an assessment about how the neighbors feel about the situation -- the chaos and violence they see.

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL: Our vital interests are at stake. Iraq is not only our neighbor, but historically, we share tribal connections and we share history and tradition that goes many thousands of years. So whatever happens in Iraq effects us immediately. Our immediate concern, of course, is for the Iraqi people to achieve the kind of stability and peace that is deserved by them after so many years of struggle and hardship.

CLANCY: In this election year, obviously Iraq has become a key issue in the election. Could you share with us, how is this being perceived in the Arab world, in the Muslim world, as some Americans say, you know, I no longer support this war. In fact, Americans didn't really, really think they were getting into a war, they thought they were liberating a country. That's what they sincerely believe. Now they see the mess. But when it's debated so openly here in this election, what's the perception out there?

TURKI: Well, I always tell my American interlocutors that since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited. The Iraqi people and the Iraqi government as I've seen reported in the press are engaged with your officials in drawing up future plans for the relationship between the two countries. And you know, the United States has many treaty relationships with many countries in our part of the world. It would not be too difficult to envision in the future Iraq and United States signing some type of cooperation treaty on all issues, like troop withdrawal and the presence of American forces in Iraq and other engagements between the two countries. But you know, the election process that you have here, for us particularly in the kingdom, is a learning process. We've started our way towards participatory and representative government some time ago. And we look upon your elections and try to learn from them.

CLANCY: The situation vis-a-vis Iran is coming to a test in the Security Council. Obviously there are regional concerns. If Iran continues on this course, what are the concerns there from Saudi Arabia? What is the advice of Saudi Arabia to the Security Council?

TURKI: We've been talking to our Iranian neighbors very closely on these issues. And we tell them the following. That since Iran by its own declarations wants to abide by the NPT treaty arrangements, that in abiding in that, they should accept the offer that has come to them from the six plus one, I think it is. Or five plus one countries about the enrichment of uranium. And we also tell them that Saudi Arabia has a proposal in front of the United Nations, which would declare the Middle East an area free of weapons of mass destruction. We believe that that would remove any suspicions from anybody's mind that Iran has ambitions to build a nuclear bomb.

CLANCY: All right. Our thanks to Turki Al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to the US for joining us for that.