Prince Saud Al-Faisal statement at joint briefing with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton

July 31, 2009

Opening Statement by HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
At the Joint Media Briefing with
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
The State Department
Washington, DC

Madam Secretary:

Thank you for your kind invitation and thank you for a wonderful lunch. I thought at one point that our meeting would be at a health facility. I am glad to say that we have both recovered enough to be able to face the media. And we both know how hazardous this can be.

To our friends in the media, I would like to say that our meeting was productive and fruitful. Our two nations have been friends and allies for over seven decades. We have seen the coming and breaking of many storms. Over time, our relationship has grown stronger, broader and deeper. And our discussion today reflected the maturity of this relationship. It was frank, honest and open – just as it should be among friends.

Today, our two nations are working closely to promote peace between Palestinians and Israelis, to encourage reconciliation in Lebanon, to stabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan, to combat terrorism, and to emphasize the need for Iran to adhere to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. And we consult on many more political issues as well as global economic matters, energy, and the environment. We have a large commercial relationship that benefits both of our people.

As you can see, we have a long list of common challenges and opportunities ahead of us, and I can say that our common interests make it incumbent upon us to closely coordinate our efforts.

Given the large number of issues we deal with, our two nations established a Strategic Dialogue in 2005. The Strategic Dialogue was designed to institutionalize the relationship between our two countries, and it served its purpose well. Today, the Secretary and I discussed ways to enhance its productivity and make it more relevant to the challenges our two nations face.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express our thanks and appreciation to President Obama and to Secretary Clinton for their early and robust focus on trying to bring peace to the Middle East. I expressed to the Secretary our view that 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. It is time for all people in the Middle East to be able to lead normal lives.

Incrementalism and a step-by-step approach, has not and -- we believe -- will not lead to peace. Temporary security and confidence building measures will also not bring peace. What is required is a comprehensive approach that defines the final outcome at the outset and launches into negotiations over final status issues – borders, Jerusalem, water, refugees and security.

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. The Arab world is in accord with such a settlement through the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut that not only accepted Israel, but also offered full and complete peace and normal relations, in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from all Arab Territories occupied in 1967. This initiative was adopted unanimously by the Islamic countries at the Makkah Summit in 2005.

Today, 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. This is not the way to peace. 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.

The question is not what the Arab World will offer – that has been established: but an end to the conflict, recognition, and full normal relations as exist between countries at peace. The question really is: what will Israel give in exchange for this comprehensive offer? And remember, what Israel is asked to give in exchange for peace, namely, the return of the occupied territories, never belonged to it in the first place. Israel hasn’t even responded to an American request to halt settlements which President Obama described as illegitimate.

Allow me to conclude by saying that I was pleased to discuss these issues with the Secretary, and I appreciated hearing her views on them.

I will be pleased to respond to your questions.

Thank You.