Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal met with Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema for talks in Riyadh today. They discussed the situations in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, as well as the issue of nuclear weapons in the region. Bilateral relations were also addressed.
During the visit, Saudi Arabia and Italy also signed an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, a move that is expected to enhance trade relations between the two countries.
In a joint press conference after their meeting, Prince Saud described the talks as “constructive.”
On Iraq, he noted that the deterioration of security there is a concern for all, and that the situation in Iraq affects the stability of the region and the world.
Prince Saud said that the Kingdom has been briefed on US President George W. Bush’s new strategy in Iraq, and that he looks forward to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s upcoming visit to the region for further clarification about the new US plan.
The Saudi foreign minister noted that in his recent speech outlining the new US strategy in Iraq, President Bush raised important points including dealing with the Iraqi militias and moving toward national reconciliation.
He also remarked that the increasingly complicated situation there requires a new strategy to achieve the goals of preserving Iraq’s unity and sovereignty, stopping the deterioration of security, confronting armed militias and terrorists, ending foreign interference that endangers Iraq’s national unity and dealing equally with all Iraqi factions.
Asked about Secretary Rice’s recent calls for greater Saudi participation in the Iraq issue, Prince Saud underscored Saudi Arabia’s policy of non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.
On Lebanon, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom seeks an end to the tension there and hopes that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa will visit Lebanon again. “The proposals of the Arab League constitute a suitable way for overcoming the crisis and could enable Lebanon to avoid the prospective dangers,” Prince Saud said.
On the Palestinian issue, Prince Saud expressed the hope that the Palestinians would resume a national dialogue to eliminate tension and violence there. He also stressed the importance of resuming peace talks within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map for Peace.
Asked if the Kingdom would use its oil as a weapon in the event Iran does so, Prince Saud reiterated the Saudi position that oil should not be used as a weapon and that the Kingdom seeks the stability of global markets.