1996 Public Statement

Communiqué of the Damascus Declaration foreign ministers' 13th session

At the end of their thirteenth session, held in Muscat, Oman on July 13 and 14, the foreign ministers of the Damascus Declaration countries today issued a communiqué emphasizing concern for cooperation within the context of the principles of the communiqué of the Arab Summit held in Cairo on June 21-23, and supporting the strong stance adopted by the Arab leaders at that conference on Arab solidarity, the service of Arab interests, and restoration of lost rights.   They also reaffirmed their condemnation of the recent explosion at the Saudi town of Al-Khobar and pledged their full support to the Kingdom in its fight against terrorism, stressing their confidence that Saudi Arabia is capable of dealing with such acts.

The eight Arab foreign ministers reiterated the solid position adopted by their countries concerning the requirements of the Middle East Peace Process and the necessity of commitment to the grounds on which it has been based since the Madrid Conference, including full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights to the June 4, 1967 lines, as well as unconditionally from southern Lebanon, and from all occupied Palestinian territories;  and a guarantee of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of an independent state on Palestinian soil.

The Ministers praised the wide-ranging international support for the Arab stance on peace, which has been reflected in statements by the European Summit in Florence, the G-7 Summit in Lyon, and the African Summit in Yaounde, as well as previous statements issued by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement.  They stressed in this connection that resuming peace negotiations requires commitment to the essential principles of the process, notably UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, and 425, and the concept of land-for-peace.  

The Ministers voiced grave concern over statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyaho during his recent visit to the United States, especially his persistence in fostering Israeli occupation of Arab lands and keeping Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty as capital of the Jewish state, saying that this attempt to impose a fait accompli undermines serious negotiations and represents a violation of the concept of land-for-peace and the solid principle on which the peace process is based, which is realizing balanced security for all countries in the region without exception, not just the security of Israel. 

The communiqué stated that Netanyaho’s call for unconditional resumption of peace talks represents an attempt to evade commitment to the basic elements of the peace process, and that when compared with his stance contradicting its essence, his calls for reciprocity are calls for returning the region to an atmosphere of confrontation and tension.   The ministers expressed surprise that Netanyaho speaks about democracy and human rights while Israel continues its occupation policies and violations of the rights provided for by the Geneva Convention, and called on all sponsors of the peace process, notably the United States, Russia, the European Union, China, Japan, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the United Nations, to guarantee that Israel does not violate these principles.

The ministers reiterated their countries’ support for Syria’s demands for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of international legitimacy, and for Damascus’ position in the face of obstacles from the Jewish state and Israeli lies about Syria which aim at delaying the peace process.   They also stressed the necessity of having Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open all its nuclear facilities to international inspection as a basic step towards making the Middle East and Gulf regions free of weapons of mass destruction. 

They called on Iraq to comply fully with the relevant security council resolutions, release all Kuwaiti and other detainees, return Kuwaiti property, allow a compensation mechanism, comply fully with the efforts of the United Nations inspection team and refrain from any provocative or hostile act that would threaten the security of Kuwait or of any other country, and welcomed the memorandum of understanding between Iraq and the United Nations to implement security council resolution 986 allowing Baghdad to sell U.S. $ 2 billion worth of oil, as a positive step towards alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi people.  They also stressed their concern for the unity of Iraq and rejection of any threat to the sovereignty of Iraqi territories.

The ministers reviewed developments of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran out of their concern for positive neighborly ties with Teheran, stressing the importance of security and stability in the Gulf and the world as a whole.  Renewing their solidarity with Bahrain and their full support for all measures taken to bolster her security and stability, they voiced rejection of any interference in her internal affairs and expressed appreciation of Syrian efforts to halt media campaigns between Bahrain and Iran as a first step towards clearing the air between the two countries.   Reviewing the efforts of the United Arab Emirates to regain control peacefully and in line with international law, over the islands of Abu Moussa, and Greater and Lesser Tunbs, they referred to the repeated sincere calls on Iran by the UAE, the GCC, the Damascus Declaration countries, the Arab League and most recently the Arab Summit Conference, and expressed support for all peaceful measures to restore UAE’s sovereignty over the three islands.

The ministers stated that their countries look forward to positive developments in the ties between Turkey and Syria, and voiced optimism at new signs in Turkish policies to establish cooperation between Damascus and Ankara, bolstering joint interests between Turkey and the Arab world.  They expressed hope that the Turkish government would reconsider the military agreement with Israel to prevent any negative effect on Arab security.

Turning to the phenomenon of international terrorism, the ministers confirmed their condemnation of the terrorist blast in Al-Khobar and their support for all measures taken by Saudi Arabia, and expressed confidence in the Kingdom’s ability to deal with such acts of terror.  While deploring attempts to brand legitimate resistance as terrorism, the ministers condemn all acts of terror, sabotage and chaos aimed at undermining the security and stability of any country, and support efforts to hold an international conference to deal with various aspects of this phenomenon, calling for coordination of global efforts to halt acts of violence and terror, to guarantee that perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice, and to take measures to prevent terrorist elements from using the lands of any country to obtain finance or weapons or media coverage to instigate acts of violence.

Expressing satisfaction with the agreement of principle between Yemen and Eritrea to refer their dispute to international arbitration, the ministers pointed out the importance of establishing good neighborly ties between the two countries.   They voiced concern over the deteriorating situation in Somalia, and called on all Somali factions to reach comprehensive national reconciliation, and to form a unified national authority representing all the people.  They also called on Afghan factions to reach a cease fire and implement the Makkah Accord. 

The communiqué confirmed support for the Arab League and the necessity for commitment to its Charter and resolutions in order to preserve the higher interests of the Arab world.  In conclusion, the ministers thanked the leader, government and people of Oman for their hospitality, and agreed to hold their next meeting in Cairo in January of 1997.