Foreign Minister urges Lebanese to commit to Arab League initiative

May 13, 2008

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal today reiterated the Kingdom’s deep concern at the ongoing violence in Lebanon and urged all Lebanese parties to commit to the Arab League initiative to resolve the crisis.

Prince Saud made the remarks during a regular press briefing in Riyadh.

Asked if the crisis in Lebanon has had a negative impact on Saudi-Iranian relations, Prince Saud replied: “If Iran was supporting the coup that took place in Lebanon, this would affect its relations with all Arab countries, if not all Islamic nations.”

He said that the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon would return to Beirut as soon as the situation calms down, and that the Embassy in Beirut remains open and able to act on behalf of Saudis who have chosen not to leave Lebanon.

On the Palestinian situation, Prince Saud said that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz denounced Israel’s policy of collective punishment against the Palestinians during a May 11 meeting with Quartet Middle East Envoy Tony Blair. He added that King Abdullah will also raise the issue with US President George W. Bush during the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia later this week.

On other issues, the Saudi foreign minister welcomed the improved security situation in Mosul and denounced the recent violence in Saadah, Yemen, where clashes erupted between the Yemeni government and insurgents belonging to the Al-Hawthi clan.

Prince Saud also condemned Saturday’s attacks by Darfur rebels on Khartoum and said that Saudi Arabia is willing to mediate between Sudan and Chad. Sudan has accused Chad of supporting the rebels who attacked Khartoum and broken off diplomatic relations. In May 2007, the Kingdom brokered an agreement of reconciliation between the two countries on Darfur.