Foreign minister calls for global cooperation to promote dialogue in UN address

September 1, 2008

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal called on the international community to work together to combat extremists and promote dialogue, tolerance and moderation in his address to the 63rd UN General Assembly yesterday.

Prince Saud noted that today’s world is more interconnected than ever before thanks to developments in transportation, communications, media and information technology.

“However, while these advances improve the human condition, they were used by extremist minorities in every religious or cultural community who are seeking to propagate notions of intolerance, exclusion, racism and hatred,” he said.

In order to combat these extremists, Prince Saud urged the nations of the world to work together and create an environment conducive to promoting dialogue, tolerance, moderation and peace among cultures. He also called on the UN General Assembly to convene a high-level meeting to follow up on the World Conference on Dialogue, which was held this past July in Madrid, Spain on the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

On the Arab-Israeli conflict, Prince Saud stressed that, unlike Israel, Arab countries have demonstrated their commitment to a just and comprehensive peace. He warned that Arab countries would “totally reject” any partial or interim solution, “because history has taught us that such solutions tend to become permanent.”

Prince Saud called on Israel to halt its settlement activity in the Palestinian territories. “The continuation of settlement activity in the occupied Arab territories renders the negotiations meaningless and makes it difficult for us to convince our peoples of the feasibility and benefits of achieving peace,” he said.

Turning to Iraq, Prince Saud welcomed the positive security developments there and expressed the hope that they would be followed by serious efforts to achieve national reconciliation. He reaffirmed the importance of noninterference in Iraqi internal affairs and expressed “grave concern” at reports that some states are providing financial and military support to Iraqi militias.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, Prince Saud said that Saudi Arabia takes “very seriously the undertakings of Iran to fully and strictly respect its obligation to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

He urged Iran to abide by its obligation to international community in a way that ensures “a peaceful and rapid solution to the Iranian nuclear program crisis and save the region from devastating conflicts, arms race and serious environmental hazards.”

Prince Saud noted the negative impact of the US credit crisis on the world economy and called on concerned parties to take steps to stabilize the global financial system.

“Our greatest fear is the imminence of a worldwide recession if the financial crisis induces the governments of developed countries to take measures that might curb the freedom of international trade and reduce the flow of investments,” he said. “We therefore appeal to the parties concerned to take urgent and effective action to remedy the flaws in the international financial system and strive to restabilize it.”

On other issues, Prince Saud reiterated the Kingdom’s condemnation of terrorism in all forms. He also highlighted Saudi Arabia’s substantial foreign aid to developing countries around the world.