Foreign Minister, British Foreign Secretary discuss key regional issues

April 24, 2008

Yesterday Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal met with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in Riyadh yesterday. They discussed key regional issues, including the situation in Iraq, the political crisis in Lebanon, the Middle East peace process and the Iranian nuclear file, in addition to bilateral relations.

In a joint press conference with Foreign Secretary Miliband after their meeting, Prince Saud expressed concern at the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza and Israel’s policy of collective punishment towards the Palestinians.

He also denounced Israel’s continuing expansion of settlements in the West Bank as a policy that undermines international agreements aimed at finding a just and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Commenting on Iran, Prince Saud reiterated the importance of making the Middle East and Gulf region free of weapons of mass destruction. He also stressed that the countries of the region have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in line with international standards. 

On Iraq, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom has not opened an embassy in Baghdad because of security concerns.

“The real reason for the lack of embassies in Baghdad is not political, but purely lack of security. When security conditions are ripe, embassies will no doubt go there,” the Saudi foreign minister said.

“We hope that the Iraqi government would be able to provide the required capabilities to protect embassies in Iraq. What is important is the Arab effort in contributing to the requirements provided to ensure national reconciliation in Iraq and ensure the unity and independence of Iraq,” he added

In his statement to the press, Foreign Secretary Miliband said he agreed with Prince Saud that interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs has prevented the election of a president there. On the Middle East peace process, Miliband noted that Britain and Saudi Arabia share the same vision of a two independent states living side by side.