Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal led the Saudi delegation to the Ninth Meeting of the Saudi-Egyptian Joint Commission held in Cairo yesterday. At a press conference following the meeting, Prince Saud referred to Saudi-Egyptian relations as fraternal and deep-rooted. Criticizing exaggerated reports by the media, he said that such exaggeration cannot affect these relations, adding that there are many Egyptians living in the Kingdom, and thousands of Saudi citizens in Egypt.
Questioned on the possibility of an Arab Summit on the situation in Iraq, Prince Saud said the Kingdom welcomes any Summit, but always exhorts optimum preparation beforehand, so that implementation of any resolution can be effected, adding that the Kingdom had no reservations about the participation of Iraq in such a Summit.
Concerning the situation in the Sudan, Prince Saud said that Saudi Arabia was supportive of the Egyptian-Libyan initiative.
Addressing the conference, Prince Saud began by expressing condolences to the families of those killed in the recent Egyptair plane crash. He went on to say that the Saudi-Egyptian Joint Commission supports consultation, cooperation and coordination in all fields, and that the Kingdom has been following with great interest the economic reforms recently undertaken by Egypt, which coincide with procedures taken by Saudi Arabia to improve the investment atmosphere so that the private sector can take a more effective role. These measures include the establishment of the Higher Economic Council, whose aim is to facilitate privatization of government projects.
The final statement issued yesterday said both sides stressed the importance of the special close relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Egypt in view of their political, economic and cultural prominence in the region. To strengthen this relationship, the two sides agreed on the need to increase trade by removing the obstacles facing it, and by finalizing an agreement to set up a free trade zone between them. Reviewing the work of the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council, the two sides expressed satisfaction at cooperation in science, culture, information, youth and sports, and the two national airlines.
Discussing the latest developments in international and Arab arenas, and especially the Middle East, the two sides stated that a lasting and stable peace in the region depends on full commitment to all the relevant United Nations resolutions, especially numbers 242, 338, and 425, and the principle of land for peace. The two sides also stressed the need for the Middle East to be free from weapons of mass destruction, and for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, putting its nuclear installations under the comprehensive test ban treat of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The two sides reaffirmed their constant stance calling for the preservation of Iraq's independence and sovereignty, concern for the brotherly Iraqi people, and implementation by the Iraqi government of all the relevant UN resolutions so that sanctions can be lifted. They also underlined the importance of preserving the territorial integrity of the Sudan, and the need to work to prevent attempts at division. They deplored the situation in Chechnya, calling for the Russian government to find a political solution through negotiation.
The statement condemned terrorism in all its forms, as a danger to the security of individuals and to the stability of communities, and urged the international community to respond to the call of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for a global conference on combating the phenomenon. Discussing the challenges facing the Islamic world, the two sides reiterated the importance of economic cooperation among Islamic states and confrontation of any attempt to distort the religion of Islam. The tenth session of the Committee will be held in Riyadh in 2000, the date to be fixed through diplomatic channels.
Following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to whom he conveyed a message from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Saud declared that significant achievements had been accomplished during the Commission's meetings. Referring to the situation in the Sudan, he said that no Saudi initiative existed for convening a conference for Sudanese reconciliation, and reiterated the Kingdom's support for the Egyptian-Libyan initiative, hoping that the Sudanese people would respond positively to it.