Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal discussed a number of critical Middle East issues, including the situations in Palestine and Iraq, in an interview with CNN International’s Michael Holmes today.On the Palestinian issue, Prince Saud expressed Arab support for the legality of President Mahmoud Abbas, and noted that the Arab League is taking steps to diffuse the crisis.
“The Arab League stands firmly with the presidency and with the legality. The situation is tense, and there is an Arab League also committee that is established to look at the events, what happens there, a fact-finding mission first, that reports to a ministerial committee, and then hopefully a return to the Makkah Agreement,” he said.
The foreign minister said that both Palestinian sides had been warned in Makkah that unless there is an accepted national unity government that promotes the Arab League peace initiative, the fragile agreement would break down. He highlighted the importance of allowing those who fled Gaza to return, including members of Fatah.
Asked what the United States could do to improve its standing as an honest broker in the Middle East, Prince Saud replied, “Do what the president has said to do – establish a Palestinian state, independent and viable, next to Israel, to live in peace with Israel. That’s what the United States can do.”
Turning to Iraq, Holmes asked Prince Saud whether the Kingdom was concerned about the Shiite presence and the Iranian presence in Iraq. Prince Saud responded that the Shiite presence in Iraq is a given, and the Sunnis and Shi’a there have lived together peacefully for centuries.
What is of concern, however, is implementation of the benchmarks that had been announced by the Iraqi government.
“If this program is implemented, and quickly enough, we think that there’s a chance for Iraq to be a peaceful country and live at peace with its neighbors,” he said.
Prince Saud reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for a Middle East region free of nuclear weapons, and said Iran has assured the Kingdom that it is not seeking nuclear capability.Transcript of Prince Saud's interview