Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal met with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy in Riyadh yesterday. Talks focused on key issues including Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran’s nuclear program and unrest in Somalia.
In a joint press conference with Douste-Blazy, Prince Saud said that Saudi Arabia and France have very similar views on many of the issues discussed at the meeting.
Regarding Iraq, Saudi Arabia and France support any effort aimed at bringing security and stability to the country based on Iraq’s unity, sovereignty and independence, Prince Saud said.
On Lebanon, Prince Saud noted that the Kingdom welcomed the recent conference in Paris on rebuilding Lebanon, but stressed the importance of paving the way for Lebanese factions to reach a draft for national unity. He added that Saudi Arabia supports the Arab League’s recent initiative in Lebanon as an appropriate solution to the crisis there.
Prince Saud denied that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s recent meeting with a Lebanese Hezbollah delegation meant that the Kingdom was taking sides. He stressed that Saudi Arabia remains neutral and that it would have been surprising if the Kingdom had refused the Hezbollah delegation’s request for a meeting.
Commenting on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, Prince Saud said that France and the Kingdom agree on the importance of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, including Israel.
Turning to Palestine, Prince Saud condemned recent escalations by Israel in Ramallah and Gaza that aggravate the situation. He called on the Palestinian factions to unify.
The Saudi foreign minister also commented on the recent situation in Somalia. He expressed the Kingdom’s hope that if Ethiopian troops entered Somalia at the invitation of the Somali government, such a move would not harm the sovereignty and independence of Somalia.