Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal left London yesterday evening after heading the Kingdom's delegation to a meeting of foreign ministers of member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the three current representatives of the European Union.
While in the U.K., Prince Saud Al-Faisal met with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, and reported afterwards that the discussion had been primarily on bilateral relations, especially following the recent visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Prince Saud Al-Faisal also expressed his thanks to the British government for its initiative in holding the GCC/EU meeting.
Regarding the peace conference to be held in London next week, Prince Saud Al-Faisal expressed optimism, stating: "The continuing freeze [in the Middle East peace process] is not in the interests of anyone, but threatens danger. And we hope that each party recognizes its responsibility and becomes responsive to the initiative."
Meanwhile, Secretary Cook gave an interview with the Arabic language Al-Hayat newspaper which was published yesterday in which he said the GCC/EU talks would cover only regional issues, adding that he was looking forward to stronger economic cooperation with the gulf states. He gave assurances that there was agreement that Iraq should comply with all international resolutions in order to raise the sanctions, and welcomed the new approach in Iran's foreign policy with the election of President Mohammed Khatami. Referring to the upcoming London visit of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyaho he said the European and British role is a completion of the American role and does not contravene it. He went on to disclose that the British government is processing legislation against those who use the U.K. to plan terrorist operations.
In yesterday's political dialogue between the GCC member states and the countries of the European Union, a number of topics were reviewed including the Middle East situation. A statement released following the meeting expressed anxiety over the failure of efforts to attain progress in the Iran-UAE dispute over the three islands. It also deplored all kinds of terrorism and called for efforts to uproot this dangerous phenomenon. There will be a further meeting of the group in Luxembourg next November.