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Saudi Arabia - Israel Relations: The 20th Periodic Press Briefing of H.R.H. Minister of Foreign Affairs

(February 10, 2004)

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al Faisal began this press conference by calling for intervention in Israel, stating that Israeli policies were further complicating the peace process and reducing chances of reaching a peace settlement in the future. He referred to Israel's security fence as the “Racial segregation wall,”during his opening statements. During the conference, Faisal spent time speaking on issues in Yemen and and Libya, and reinforced the Arab world's support of the Arab Peace Initiative to bring a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The arrival of United Nations' "fact finding mission" in Iraq is a positive development at the Iraqi arena, [we are] hoping it will contribute to the restoration of United Nations central role in Iraq according to UN’s resolution 1511. In addition, we hope Iraq will regain its national unity and full sovereignty over all its national soil.
Regarding the Palestinian situation, we call for an immediate and decisive intervention to confront the unilateral Israeli policies that could further complicate the peace process and reduce the chances of reaching a peaceful settlement of the conflict. On the Israeli Racial Segregation Wall’s case, the kingdom submitted its official legal memorandum to the International Court of Justice on January 27, and the kingdom will deliver a statement on the issue of the wall at the beginning of the court's deliberations on the issue on February 23.

Then HRH the Minister answered the questions raised by representatives of local and foreign press agencies:
Question: There are some news that say that American administrations have informed the Kingdom to cancel some parts and texts from school courses that talk about Jihad, would this saying be right?
HRH The Minister: The Kingdom has not receive my order from any foreign authority about teaching courses.

Question: Is there indications of a real crisis between the Kingdom and Yemen concerning what is called a ferrous cement barrier? And do you expect Iran to resolve the issue concerning surrendering [Saudi] Al-Qaeda members arrested in Iran?
HRH The Minister: I don’t know how to describe the situation as a crisis, and there is as I said, no cement barrier between the two countries. There are, according to the agreement between the two countries Saudi barricades on the borders, as it is the case on the borders of other countries. We have not only said this, but the officials in Yemen said the [same thing]. As you know there is a meeting in Jeddah between the two sides that runs normally and friendly. I do not expect only that there would be indications of a crisis, but I expect that the full cooperation would be the main feature of this meeting. If there are indications from Iran to respond to the call for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to surrender arrested Saudis, we have not received a formal response about this issue, we hope of course to have such response, and we expect that interest would be for the two countries of such way of dealing because even in the frame work of gathering information which might be of interest to Iran and to the Kingdom, I think with no doubt, that surrendering Saudis to the Kingdom would be realizing this matter.

Question: What about the news stating that there is arrest or stoppage of some Arab Diplomats, specifically Libyan, and that there are three Libyan diplomats have been arrested in the Kingdom because [they are] suspected to have [a] connection with a security issue in the Kingdom?
HRH The Minister: If this information is securely dealt with, I don’t think [I have] the authority to answer this question, and you can ask the minister of the interior about this subject.
Question: What about your coming European tour, and do you have a special letter from Saudi Arabia about the discussions you will make with European countries you are visiting, if you please?
HRH The Minister: In fact it is a response to old calls, so the nature of the visit would be about the bilateral relations, but I think there are vital topics which we will tackle, the peace process in Iraq, especially [about] the return [of the] United Nations to it and possible coordination between the Arab community and European union within this framework. We will discover the potentials of this cooperation, there are generally the topic we will tackle, [on] the official visits to Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. There is a speech of mine in a center of European union committee. So it is not an official visit and I would meet minister of foreign affairs, and Mr. Soulara, so the topics [of] peaceful solution [in the] Middle East [will] be discussed.

Question: You have stated that the kingdom finds it is important not to stop [the] peace process, so currently does the kingdom have any suggestions to activate this process within the framework of Arab peace initiative?
HRH The Minister: In fact at the beginning, I have stated that Arab countries are interested in activating the work of Arab initiative, so there would be meeting of [the] Arab follow-up committee to discuss this topic, and transfer it essentially or specifically to the united nations, also the possibility of international cooperation to revive the peaceful initiative in general as the Arab initiative four-party initiative and the road map are integrated.

Question: I return to the topic of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, in newspapers there is a talk about establishing electronic system on the borders. It is under negotiation with the French group “Talas” to achieve this project which is estimated at seven billion euros, are these news true? Then concerning the issue of Iraq, the neighboring countries of Iraq are to meet next Saturday in Kuwait, what is the [purpose] of the this meeting, especially you have talked about the horizons to be open nowadays with the return of united nations and Iraq?
HRH The Minister: In fact I don’t have the project you have mentioned, you can ask the ministry of foreign affairs, but I think that the two countries agree to control [the] situation on borders best to be smuggling which became annoying for the two countries, I don’t know the correctness of the sum you have mentioned, but doubt its impact would be for the benefit of the two countries and for protection their borders. As concerns the next Saturday meeting in Kuwait, as you know the Kingdom has been among the states which called to establish this group. The goal of the neighboring countries of Iraq will be assisting and contributing in Iraqi’s stability but not to interfere in its internal affairs. The group in all its statements has approved this principle, and if there is no positive contribution for Iraq there would be no interference in the Iraqi international affairs, the new thing in this meeting is Iraq. The presence of Iraq in this meeting would give a most important nature as it would give the meeting persons the opportunity to supervise the true facts Iraq, and the fact of Iraqi people requirements form its neighbors and sisterly countries.

Question: How do you consider the Israeli willingness concerning establishing a consulate in Baghdad as an Islamic country, having no sovereignty up till now, and how do find American president statements about this be sure that there would be no Islamic country in Iraq?
HRH The Minister: Of course opening Embassies and diplomatic this is the right of sovereignty, I have no right to comment on anything made by any country within this framework. Our stand from Israel is clear, and if it wants diplomatic ties with Arab countries, the Arab suggestion approved in Beirut defines the real bases for normalization with Israel before peace, so any ties made by Israel would not be normal anyhow, because in order to be normal, there are ties almost war between Israel and Arab world. In order that the ties be natural, there would be a comprehensive peace.
What Arab states have offered was integrated we hope, in order that the relations be normal, that Israel accepts this offer as its for its benefit. I don’t know how to comment on what the American president has stated, this is his opinion in the long run, and the decision on what would happen in Iraq is for the Iraqis.

Question: [What is your opinion on] the Arab summit and the probability of changing its place between Tunisia and Cairo, what is your comment on what the American officials about a draft resolution to prepare for democracy in the Middle East countries?
HRH The Minister: I have not heard anything about changing the place of date of Arab submit permanent coordination’s with the sisterly Egypt. The ties between the Kingdom and Egypt are distinguished. They are agreed on improving Arab situation and peace process in Middle East, and about democracy, the Middle East is a wide word, each country is different from the other, how could united standards be applied for these countries. We don’t know how that would be; we know only that the proposed draft resolution compromises political security and economic aspects and the details are few up till now.

Question: Would a [soon] get together be held between the two Saudi and Egyptian Leaderships?
HRH The Minister: I would not be amazed of such a get together.

Question: Does the Kingdom have any information about organizations or states standing behind the explosions in Riyadh, and what about the concept of indulgence referred to by his highness prince sultan in his last meeting with array officers?
HRH The Minister: what the Prince said is evident, concerning the arrested, I come back to Al-Qaida witness in the film that was distributed, it has assured what the ministry of the interior has stated about explosion operations. It has proved that data released by security authorities in Saudi Arabia have been true 100%, on the part of their work and the methods undergone, and about financing, the procedures are taken strictly to limit it from reaching to these evil people.

Question: You have stated that the mission of United Nations in Iraq is considered a positive development, what are the efforts exerted to support United Nations in restoring its role?
HRH The Minister: It presence in Iraq is a first step. We have seen what happened in Afghanistan where the presence-limited nations had a great impact to reach the agreement made days ago of (cyrgo) meeting, made by United Nations.  We hope that the [same thing] would happen in Iraq because the people in it are suffering. It is time for situation in Iraq to be settled down, and [for] the Iraqi people [to] practice their sovereignty on their land, Iraq does not need men or money or potentials. What it needs is stability which we hope that United Nations would add.

Source: Wikileaks