Foreign Minister address to the Islamic Summit in Dakar

March 13, 2008

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal address to the 11th Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Dakar, Senegal, March 13, 2008

Saudi Arabia views the Dakar summit as a significant station as it comes in the aftermath of the adoption of the leaders of the Islamic nation at their extraordinary summit in Makkah of the ten-year work program, which aims at dealing with the challenges facing the Islamic nation upon a strategic vision that puts plans for its future and copes with the international changes and developments.

It is hoped and expected that the current meeting reviews the plans contained in the ten-year program based on what has been accomplished and what remains to be completed. Accordingly, the Government of Saudi Arabia has set up a national committee for the implementation, follow-up and coordination of programs with the Islamic world in the framework of joint work.

In spite of the relatively short pace of time to adopt the ten-year program of work, we are beginning to see some fruits of its application in enhancing the role of Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) complex in order to make it a reference for legislation and fatwa (legal opinion) and to put an end to the chaotic situation prevailing in the area in the field of ifta (deliverance of advisory or legal opinion) and the development of the advisory functions of the complex to include the promotion of dialogue between Islamic sects and gain respect of others and express the moderation and tolerance of Islam.

The recent period has witnessed the launch of serious efforts towards the development of our charter to enable it to accommodate changes and meet the requirements of the current stage set forth in the ten-year Working Program.

Though those steps are important and signal serious orientation towards upgrading the quality of joint Islamic action, we still have a lot of efforts and endeavors to do by each state at the domestic level and at the collective level to work with determination and seriousness to implement all aspects of the program in the political, economic, cultural fields and others.

The rational approach and style of moderation and a spirit of tolerance and openness towards other parties must constitute an instrument we use as shield in the face of current challenges and our destiny will remain as it is if we did not change our way of dealing with it and the international community can not deal with us in the required seriousness unless they got assured about our credibility and solidarity in defending these issues and our commitment to meet the requirements of our quest to restore our usurped rights.

In the context of our review of the principles contained in the ten-year program, we have to note that the call for moderation, tolerance and openness towards other cultures and civilizations is not intended to ignore abuses directed against Islam and Muslims and disregard the waves of hatred and antagonism originated by the forces of extremism and blind fanaticism prevalent in some Western circles, which was expressed recently by various means of audiovisual media. Our call for tolerance among civilizations and cultures can be achieved only through the exchange of respect among themselves to ensure parity of dialogue. In this regard, we call upon the international community and all its civil and official institutions, and its media to respect Islam in its capacity as a divine religion and the most widespread.

Though the international charters have guaranteed the human right of freedom of expression, they did not pardon him from his responsibilities and obligations in return for enjoying this right. The United Nations Charter and international human rights laws called for encouraging dialogue, understanding and cooperation among religions and cultures in defense of peace and prevention of intolerance, discrimination and instigation for hatred of individuals of any of the sects or followers of a religion or a faith. The charters and media also called for the creation of an environment conducive to better understanding among all faiths, cultures and peoples. Therefore it is impossible in any way to accept that the freedom of opinion could go too far to the extent that it infringes the rights and freedoms of religious beliefs of individuals.

Your Majesties and Highnesses:

We all know that the emergence of the Organization of the Islamic Conference was in response to a flagrant challenge that faced our nation when Al Aqsa Mosque in the holy city of Al-Quds was subject to a criminal attack by a hateful extremist who benefited from the occurrence of the holy city under the Israeli occupation. Al-Quds is pivotal to this issue, qualifying it to top the priorities in any talks or negotiations designed to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Based on this principle and on Arab consensus, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took part in Annapolis conference for peace in the light of assurances preceding the conference that it ushers in a new phase according to which dealing with the peace process on the bases of addressing the fundamental issues of the conflict, including the issue of Al-Quds, will also take place within a specific time frame.

We were hopeful that the commitments which came out in Annapolis be put into effect. However, time is running out. We could see nothing but a continuation of the Israeli government committing massacres against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories against children, women, elderly and unarmed civilians, as well as the pursuance of a policy of siege and collective punishment contrary to all international and humanitarian laws and the Geneva Conventions on treatment of civilians under occupation.

The world community is required to carry out its responsibilities towards these inhuman Israeli practices. In this regard, the Ministerial Council of the Arab League has demanded the world community to provide enough international protection for Palestinians in the face of this brutal Israeli attack . The Council also linked the Arab commitment to peace as a strategic option with the extent to which Israel lives up to its commitments and obligations towards the peace process and its respect for the charters and other peace accredited references, including the Arab peace initiative. What is expected from the world community, particularly the active actors, is not only sponsoring the peace process but also to strenuously strive to lead this process according to its bases and references.

Despite the relative improvement on the security front in Iraq, that improvement has not been accompanied by the desired progress at the political and constitutional levels that would achieve the required push towards national reconciliation based on justice and equality for all spectra of the Iraqi people. It is a matter that holds the Iraqi government completely responsible towards the achievement of national reconciliation that guarantees the achievement of social justice and equality in rights and duties according to purely national considerations and away from any outside interference. We hope that the Iraqi government will achieve success in that matter.

With regard to Lebanon, the Arab League continues in its tireless efforts to resolve the presidency portfolio crisis. Recently the Arab League’s Council commissioned the Secretary General, Mr. Amr Mousa, to continue contacts with the Lebanese parties in the framework of this initiative with special attention to the Lebanese-Syrian relations as this matter is closely tied to the Lebanese problem. In this regard, we look forward to an effective Syrian role to achieve a Lebanese national reconciliation based on the Arab initiative in the framework of a comprehensive Arab commitment to exert strenuous effort to resolve the crisis in Lebanon.

Consolidating security and stability in the Gulf region, a sensitive part of the world, requires emphasis on good-neighborliness and strengthening of trust between the Islamic Republic of Iran and its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council states of the Gulf. Among the tools to reach this end is for Iran to meet the call of the United Arab Emirates to solve the issue of the three islands through direct negotiations or resort to International Court of Justice.

The Iranian nuclear file crisis constitutes a challenge facing our region and is a source of concern for all of us. Our hope and wish is to see this file settled peacefully and away from tension and escalation, as part of the aspiration to make the Middle East and the Gulf region free of nuclear weapons while ensuring the right in the peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the standards and procedures of the International Atomic Energy Agency and under its supervision and the application of these standards to all countries of the region without exception, including Israel.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been keen to provide assistance and contribute with all its might to addressing the issues and problems facing a number of OIC member states to let them evade the repercussions and complications of the continuation and aggravation of those problems. Among these problems is the crisis in Darfur region of the sisterly country of Sudan in its human dimension. The Riyadh Arab summit was keen to enhance the efforts aiming to solve this humanitarian tragedy through building the confidence between the Government of Sudan and the United Nations.

As regards the resolving of the crisis in Somalia, the Riyadh Summit was able to pave the way for reconciliation conference among the Somali factions, which resulted in signing an agreement in Jeddah last year. We look forward to seeing all Somali factions committed to the agreement and to see assistance provided to the Somali government to enable it to lay the foundations of security and stability in Somalia.

Your Majesties and Highnesses:

The ten-year program was keen to address the economic challenges facing our Islamic nation and to forge development plans qualified to achieve development and prosperity in the Islamic world. The program has focused on enhancing economic cooperation and cross-trade and being interested in issues relating to science and technology and to alleviate poverty and the quest to eradicate diseases and epidemics in the OIC member states.

In this regard, Saudi Arabia has announced its contribution of $1 billion to the fund to combat poverty in the Islamic world. Moreover, the Islamic Development Bank has appropriated $1 billion from its budget to support the fund, bringing to $2.6 billion the total pledges received by the fund so far. We look forward to initiatives from member states to pump as much as $10 billion into the fund's capital.

To eliminate obstacles obstructing trade in our Islamic world and to facilitate the flow of capital and investment among us, the ten-year work program has commissioned the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) to increase the volume of trade between member states. This necessitates effective implementation of the convention on the trade preferences of the organization and its plan to reduce customs tariffs and remove customs and semi-custom barriers. Let me assure you that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is in the process of finalizing the ratification procedures of this plan and hopes that all members of the organization follow suit to enable the organization to implement the plan as soon as possible to ensure the achievement of the desired goal.

Your Majesties and Highnesses:

Saudi Arabia participates in the tireless global efforts to preserve the environment and underscores the importance of the international community adopting appropriate measures to counter climate change, according to joint responsibility on one hand and differentiated responsibility between developed and developing countries on the other. It also confirms that continuation in energy usage technology development research and purifying. It is an important field and will be the main entrance to confront the environment numerous problems but the efforts exerted are coping with the extent of this importance. In this concern, the Kingdom has initiated the establishment of a fund research on energy, environment and climate change, announced by OPEC during the third summit held in Riyadh and has donated $300 million.
Petroleum is a strategic commodity for the world economy. Its market stability is vital to ensuring the common interests of producers and consumers alike. Emanating from this, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was always keen to adopt an oil policy aiming at preserving the balance of this market. Moreover, the Kingdom was keen to extend bridges of dialogue between producers and consumers via the Riyadh-based World Energy Forum. In this regard, it deserves mentioning that the current volatility in the world oil market and the souring of oil prices are largely due to speculations, which have nothing to do with the foundations of a stable market.

Your Majesties and Highnesses:

We have a rich agenda in this meeting, requiring a lot of effort and time to draw good results and decisions to meet the aspirations and hopes of our peoples, who are now gearing forward to Dakar, twice host of the Islamic Summit, having hosted the sixth summit and now the 11th conference.

This hospitable country has insisted to once again contribute to the patronage of joint Islamic action amid extremely delicate circumstances, a patronage decorated with warm welcome and generous hospitality. At the end, let me express on behalf of the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia our sincere gratitude to the leadership, government and people of the Republic of Senegal.