Mr. Vice-President: Mr. Secretary of State of the United States of America: Mr. Secretary of the Treasury of the United States of America: Mr. Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation: Your Highnesses, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
I would like to express our gratitude to the Vice-President for opening this important meeting; and on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, his government and the people of Saudi Arabia, it gives me great pleasure to express our appreciation for the efforts earnestly exerted by the co-sponsors of the peace conference on the Middle East. I would like to join other speakers in paying tribute to President Clinton and his administration for taking such a timely initiative in convening this conference here in Washington with a view to mobilizing political and material support for the Palestinian people as they enter a historic phase of assuming responsibility for their own affairs in Gaza and the West Bank.
Saudi Arabia is firmly committed to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between the Arabs and Israel based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. We, along with our colleagues in the Gulf Cooperation Council, were among the first to extend our support to the Declaration of Principles signed by the Israeli and the Palestinian representatives here in Washington. We believe it to be a bold first step towards the resolution of the Palestinian question, which is the heart and core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although the road for peace in the Middle East is still a complex one, we hope this first step shall pave the way towards a successful outcome of the peace process launched in Madrid in October 1991.
The momentum generated by this accomplishment should be reinforced by successful negotiations of the outstanding issues such as the question of Al-Qds Al-Sharif, as well as speedy movement in the other tracks of the peace process to this end, and international political and material support to the Palestinians is the first clear and foremost priority. The government of Saudi Arabia is pleased to participate in these international efforts. In this context, we also see an important role for the regional financial institutions.
I would like, therefore, to reaffirm the continued and firm commitment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assist in the economic development of the occupied Arab territories. We attach a great importance to the improvement of existing infrastructure and building newly required ones with a view to realizing the development objectives of the Palestinian economy.
We note with appreciation the role played by the World Bank in assisting the Palestinians to identify their development needs for the next five years. We commend the work of the bank and express our confidence in its ability to carry out the task of coordinating assistance provided by donor countries and institutions to this end. Saudi Arabia is willing to contribute through the Saudi Fund for Development, to the bank's efforts in this regard.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also pleased to pledge one hundred million U.S. dollars during the course of 1994 to the World Bank's program for the urgent development needs of the Palestinian economy. Further, the Saudi Fund for Development has been instructed to coordinate with the World Bank in funding the program of development for the occupied territories.
We trust that this conference shall demonstrate the interest the international community attaches to the realization of peace in the Middle East so as to sustain the momentum for progress in the peace process.
Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.