Prince Saud Al-Faisal, David Miliband Hold Press Conference
Riyadh, April 08. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirmed that the negative remarks made by the new Israeli Government do not bode well for the peace process.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Foreign Minister, said that the Israeli government's ignorance of the principle of international solution based on the establishment of two independent states as well as its ignorance of the Road Map, Annapolis agreements and other international legitimacy resolutions return the peace process to the square one. Prince Saud stressed the need for Israel to stop settlement and abide by the decision of the Security Council No. 1860 in addition to end the policy of collective punishment and lift the siege on the Palestinians.
During a joint press conference held here today with British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband, Prince Saud Al-Faisal highlighted the situation in Iraq and expressed the Kingdom's denouncement and shock of the recent bombings in Iraq which resulted in victims and destruction.
Prince Saud expressed hope that the Iraqi government's efforts will succeed in pursuing the perpetrators of these terrorist acts and achieving security and stability in Iraq.
Prince Saud highlighted the key issues discussed during a meeting held today by him with British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband.
Following is the text of the statement with which Prince Saud Alfaisal began the press conference:
I again welcome Mr. Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and the accompanying delegation.
I think I speak in our name together in expressing happiness as we witness today the seed of the forum "Two Kingdoms' Dialogue" which was sowed four years ago as it is growing and prospering at the hands of our two countries' people and bearing fruit in boosting dialogue and cooperation between us in many fields for the benefit of the two friendly countries and peoples.
I also would like to commend the United Kingdom's hosting of the recent Summit of the Group of Twenty and express hope that the summit's resolutions will be an incentive to restore confidence in the world economy, achieve its development and reform the international financial system especially in light of the unprecedented support adopted by the summit.
In the context of political talks, we held today a joint talks session characterized as customary by frankness and comprehensiveness. During it, we discussed many important regional and international issues for our two countries. The issue of the Middle East had a great share of the talks especially in light of the developments at the Israeli and Palestinian scenes as well as the regional and international developments.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the negative remarks made by the new Israeli Government do not bode well for the peace process.
The Israeli government's ignorance of the principle of international solution based on the establishment of two independent states as well as its ignorance of the Road Map, Annapolis understandings and other international legitimacy resolutions will return the peace process to square one.
Hence, we believe in the importance of exerting efforts by the international community especially the United States to force Israel to adhere to the resolutions of the international legitimacy and references of the peace process including the Arab Peace Process.
We also stress the necessity of Israel's ending of settlement and adherence to the resolution of the Security Council number 1860 by ending the policy of collective punishment and lifting the blockade on the Palestinians.
I cannot hide our shock and strong denunciation of the recent bombings in Iraq which resulted in large number of victims and destruction especially after we rejoiced at the security improvement in Iraq.
We hope that the Iraqi government's efforts will succeed in pursuing the perpetrators of these terrorist acts and achieving security and stability in Iraq.
On the Afghani issue, the kingdom followed the new strategy approved by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in its recent meeting in Strasburg including the expansion of its tasks to include the civil efforts which the kingdom stresses its importance in achieving social development for the Afghani people and helping support efforts for restoring security and stability in Afghanistan.
We also welcome the strategy's work for supporting stability in neighboring Pakistan.
We also discussed the Iranian nuclear file and we welcome the US government's positive approach of wanting to deal with the crisis diplomatically through dialogue. We sincerely hope that the Iranian government will respond to these efforts to solve the crisis in a way that will distance the region of the Arab Gulf and the Middle East away from the dangers of nuclear proliferation and secure the right of all countries in the region in the peaceful usage of nuclear energy according to the standards and measures of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The kingdom believes that the only solution lays in the adoption of the policy of the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council aiming at making the region of the Arab Gulf and the Middle East including Israel free of weapons of mass destruction.
In the talks, we were unanimous in stressing the importance of Lebanon's stability, security and territorial integrity.
From this perspective, we call on all Lebanese factions to leave the language of tension and escalation and prepare the appropriate atmosphere for the next parliamentary elections in a peaceful way according to the rules of the Lebanese constitution and the Taif Agreement away from the practice of any pressure and intimidation.
Then, Mr. Miliband delivered a speech in which he stressed the importance of the forum's role in bolstering Saudi-British relations.
Mr. Miliband expressed happiness for meeting Prince Saud Alfaisal saying, "It's my pleasure to work with his highness and learn from him for the future...When he met King Abdulaziz, United States of America's former president Roosevelt said, 'Five minutes with King Abdulaziz equal tens of letters and telegraphs.'"
Mr. Miliband commended the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and what it has provided over the last seven years including its introduction of the Arab Initiative and its efforts to advance the Middle East peace process.
Then, the British foreign minister delivers a speech in which he highlighted the strong relations between the two fraternal countries, noting the development of those relations in a way serving their two peoples in the political and economic fields.
He stressed the great status the Kingdom enjoys at the global arena, and its contributions in the world stability and in the international economic field, in addition to the growth and prosperity the Kingdom witnesses in a lot of economic cities, infrastructure, diversity of its economic base, and in the educational and health fields .
Milliband suggested that the current dialogue between two kingdoms is a good way to expand and deepen the relations, commending the prospects the cooperation reached, in particular, in the field of youth, sports, economy and sciences between the two countries, wishing the continuation of meetings, coordination and work in broad fields in a way enhancing the ties that serve the two countries.
The event was attended by a number of Saudi princes, high-ranking officials, and Saudi-British dignitaries as well as a number of British representatives of private and public sectors.
Then, Prince Saud al-Faisal and British Foreign Secretary answered the questions of journalists.
In response to a question on the possibility of a successful political negotiations among the Afghans, the British Foreign Secretary made it clear that the matter is not as simple as that since there are many currents drifting the Afghan parties from inside.
One of the things that we talked about today was Afghanistan, he said adding that in Afghanistan there are no two political parties but a spectrum of social and tribal society that you have to deal with.
We believe that the Afghan government should lead a process of reconciliation with all those who are ready to respect the Afghan Constitution and above all be committed to the principle of non-violence, he said.
The British Secretary added that the goal of the Afghan government should be to integrate all groups in the political process of Afghanistan.
The foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan to the extent that is needed to build Afghanistan Defense Force as we have no colonial designs in Afghanistan.
Speaking on the Saudi-British cooperation and relations, the British Secretary stressed that the relations between the two countries are strong and developing.
He said the issue of facilitation of travel visas between the two countries was thoroughly discussed between the Saudi - British sides this year, he said.
He cast light on a meeting currently being held in London in which representatives of Britain, France and Germany in addition to Russia, China and the U.S. are taking part to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue.
He urged Iran to commit itself to the non-proliferation of weapons treaty.
Answering a question on the extent the Arab initiative will remain on the table, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said the Arab peace initiative will remain on the table as long as there is a sincere desire for peace in the Middle East. Had Israel continued to disregard the Arab initiative, it would be easy to withdraw it, he stated.
The matter widely depends on Israel's response rather than the Arab desire in real peace, Prince Saud said.
Regarding the Kingdom's position towards the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq, Prince Saud Al-Faisal stated that that is an Iraqi internal matter as the troops are there upon the consent of the Iraqis and thus the troops' departure.
However, we hope that Iraq will be able to carry out its security duties as an independent state, he added.
Commenting on the latest U.S. President's remarks that the peace process could be implemented if the two parties, the Israelis and Palestinians, compromise, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said the Arab party has already presented its peace profile.