Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal, who is on a three-day visit to Tokyo, gave an interview on Japanese television which was aired last night. In it, he expressed the Kingdom’s concern for the ordeal of the people of Iraq, and the hope that the agreement signed recently by the United Nations and Iraq will contribute positively in lessening their burdens. Prince Saud ruled out the possibility that the decision adopted by the UN to partially lift the embargo imposed on the export of Iraqi oil would have an adverse impact on the world oil market, saying: “In the light of Iraq being a member state of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the international market will not be much affected. It will be possible to reach an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members to preserve current oil prices in a way that serves the mutual interests of all oil producing and consuming countries. The volume which will be exported by Iraq can easily be absorbed by the international market.”
Prince Saud pointed out that the best way to bolster stability in the Gulf region is to fully implement the UN resolutions issued following the occupation of Kuwait. Asked whether he views Saddam Hussein of Iraq as a source of danger in the region, he said: “The important thing is the implementation of the UN resolutions. The behavior of the Iraqi regime makes us more determined on this.”
Categorically denying that U.S. troops were permanently stationed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud stated: “As regards the Air Force, following the UN resolution defining a no-fly zone for planes, the UN asked the Kingdom to allow air flights over southern Iraq for surveillance purposes”, adding that surveillance is an essential matter.
Concerning Saudi Arabia’s relations with the Palestinians, Prince Saud said: “The Kingdom maintains excellent relations with the Palestinian Authority because it views the Palestinian problem as the most important of issues and one that should be accorded the fullest support. We believe that the UN resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian cause should be carried out.” Moreover, the Kingdom, Prince Saud said, “believes in the importance of honoring the agreements signed by the Palestinians and Israel. At the same time, the Kingdom is anxious about the collective punishment meted out by the Israeli authorities against the people of Palestine and calls for immediate implementation of the Madrid Agreement”.
Prince Saud noted that Japan also has great importance in terms of economic support to the Palestinian Authority, and said: “We believe that the Israeli policy is not the right way to tackle the Palestinian problem and to realize a genuine peace, because genuine peace will not be realized without guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinian people. We support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and think that is the only way to realize peace. Asked about the Israeli elections, Prince Saud said: “Whatever the outcome of the Israeli elections, we hope that talks will continue between the Palestinians and the Israelis; and between the Syrians and the Lebanese, and Israel. The Israelis have the right to elect whomsoever they wish to be ruled by, but what concerns us is the issue of peace and the development of the peace process. We have no right to support any party against another in the Israeli elections.”
Referring again to the Madrid Peace Conference, Prince Saud stated that it “underscored the importance of implementing UN Resolution 242, concerning nullification of the principle of occupying another’s territory, acceptance of the principle of peace in return for land, and the realization of stability and security for all countries in the region. Five decades have passed since the start of the Arab-Israel dispute, and if an Israeli administration that is convinced of the importance of peace does not emerge, then the sufferings of the countries of the region will continue”. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud pointed out, participated in the Madrid Peace Conference as well as in the work of the committees, and added: “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz had an effective role in adopting a plan for peaceful settlement of the dispute, restoration of the occupied territories and the rights of the Palestinians”.
Commenting on the budget of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud said: “The crises of the Middle East have caused serious problems to the economies of the countries in the region, with a heavy burden placed on the Saudi economy as a result of the war for the liberation of Kuwait.” Pointing out that like Japan, the Kingdom’s economy depends on exports, he noted that the Saudi economy is now marching forward in the proper direction and is flourishing, saying: “The Saudi government has taken measures to rationalize consumption, and in addition, the Saudi private sector has started to shoulder its responsibility towards the country’s economy. We therefore view the next decade with optimism.”
Prince Saud went on to say that the Kingdom, realizing the importance of diversification of sources of income, has enacted laws and regulations to encourage foreign investment and international cooperation, adding: “Fortunately, the Saudi economy is not competing with the Japanese economy. On the contrary, the economies of the two countries are complementary to each other.” Saudi Arabia provides Japan with 25 percent of its oil needs and 40 percent of its liquified petroleum gas.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal also attended a reception hosted by the Arab-Japanese Friendship League, where he expressed happiness at meeting with members of the League and highlighted the significant role being played by the League in fostering understanding between the Arab world and Japan. Referring to his talks with his Japanese counterpart Yukihiko Ikeda, he said they covered bilateral relations and a number of international issues, adding: “Saudi-Japanese views, if not identical, are basically similar in terms of international issues and the development of bilateral relations. Both countries are concerned with peace, understanding, and good relations among nations.”
Yesterday, Prince Saud Al-Faisal announced that during his visit to Japan he would deliver to Emperor Akihito and to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hishimoto, messages from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Kind Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz. These messages express satisfaction at the constant cooperation between the two countries, and the great interest of the Saudi leadership in promoting such cooperation. Prince Saud reiterated that “Japan is one of the Kingdom’s most important trade partners. It is therefore very important that this relationship should be developed from its commercial foundation to involve investment and cooperation in other fields of mutual concern, with the aim of serving the best interests of both the Saudi and the Japanese peoples.”