1998 News Story

Prince Nayef interviewed by Kuwait's Al-Rai Al-A'am

Interior Minister Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz, in an interview published yesterday in Kuwait's Al-Rai Al-A'am, referred to the tension between Iraq and the United Nations following Iraq's suspension of cooperation with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). He declared that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whether aware of it or not, was acting contrary to the interests of the Arab world in general and the Iraqi people in particular. Referring to criticism by Iraqi officials of remarks made by Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, during his recently-concluded seven-nation world tour, and in particular his call for Iraq to fully comply with the UN resolutions, Prince Nayef stated that the Crown Prince was reflecting the sincere position and belief of the Saudi leadership. He recalled that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz had sought, while representing the late King Khalid at the Arab summit in Algiers, to mediate between Iraq and Iran, and that his amicable endeavor had resulted in the Algerian pact of non-aggression between Iraq and Iran, which Saddam Hussein abrogated on the eve of his war with Iran. Prince Nayef also recalled that at the time, Saddam Hussein had described the Saudi endeavor as an invaluable service.

In response to a question on relations between the Kingdom and Iran, Prince Nayef agreed that his statement to the effect that all the perpetrators in the Al-Khobar explosion were Saudis had had an impact on the breakthrough in relations between Riyadh and Tehran, but emphasized that he had never denied the external dimension and had not cast light on it so as to provide a better atmosphere for investigation. As for relations with Iran, he said these are good, cordial, strong, firm and natural, and not like those that existed over the last decade, that were marred with bitterness and sometimes hostility. He confirmed that the leaderships of the two countries were content with this orientation, denying that the cool relations of the past would constitute an obstacle in the way of normalization of bilateral relations. As for an announcement on the names of the perpetrators of the Al-Khobar explosion, Prince Nayef declined to fix a date, citing the same reason as before, namely the completion of certain matters in order to clarify the facts. He reconfirmed that the Saudi authorities possess the main facts about the case and full knowledge of those who carried out the explosion.
Asked to confirm whether Saudi Arabia was playing any role to mend fences between Egypt and Iran, Prince Nayef said that the Kingdom would never miss any opportunity to settle relations between any two Arab or Islamic countries in dispute. Asked about reports that Saudi Arabia had sought the extradition of Osama bin Laden, who is currently in Afghanistan, Prince Nayef stated that he had said enough about this issue and had nothing more to add. Asked if the Kingdom is ready to restore its diplomatic relations with the Taleban, Prince Nayef said that diplomatic representation still exists, but officials are frequently summoned home for specific purposes.
On the Wye River Memorandum recently concluded by the Palestinians and the Israelis, Prince Nayef said: "If intentions are good, then peace and justice will be realized; otherwise there is no use in the signing of the agreement."
On the dispute between Syria and Turkey, Prince Nayef stated: "I don't think that continuation of the dispute will serve their interests." He noted that the efforts exerted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had yielded positive results and paved the way for settlement of the dispute.