Saudi Foreign Minister holds bilateral talks with U.S. Secretary of State

July 31, 2009

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal held bilateral talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at the State Department in Washington today. Speaking at a joint press briefing afterwards, Prince Saud emphasized the Kingdom’s commitment to moving forward with the Middle East peace process. “A bold and historic step is required to end this conflict and divert the resources of the region from war and destruction to peace and development,” he said, adding that “incrementalism and a step-by-step approach” will not lead to peace.

Instead, Prince Saud called for a “comprehensive approach” that lays out concrete goals from the beginning and addresses final status issues during the negotiating phase. “The whole world knows what a settlement should look like – withdrawal from all the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, a just settlement for the refugees, and an equitable settlement of issues such as water and security,” he said.

The Arab world demonstrated that it was ready for peace with Israel, Prince Saud remarked, when it embraced the Arab Peace Initiative, which was proposed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz during a 2002 summit in Beirut. The plan offers full normalization of relations in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from all Arab Territories occupied during the 1967 War, including Jerusalem.

Prince Saud stressed the necessity of Israel doing its fair share as well, by agreeing to a complete settlement freeze and providing necessities for Palestinians. Unfortunately, he noted, “Israel is trying to distract by shifting attention from the core issue – an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state – to incidental issues, such as academic conferences and civil aviation matters . . . Israel must decide if it wants real peace, which is at hand, or if wants to continue obfuscating and, as a result, lead the region into a maelstrom of instability and violence.”

During her remarks, Secretary Clinton reiterated the need for the Kingdom to take a leadership role facilitating peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. Saudi leadership is “absolutely vital to achieving . . . lasting peace,” she said.

The two officials also praised the strong relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., saying that they looked forward to a continued partnership on key issues, such as Iran’s nuclear program, counter-terrorism and anti-extremism efforts, and the global economic crisis.

For Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal's full remarks, click here.

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