In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Dear brothers and friends:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you and to express to you my gratitude for accepting our invitation to attend this gathering which we hope to become an annual event through which to highlight Saudi-African friendship.
It is also my great privilege to convey to you the regards and best wishes of His Royal Highness Prince Saud al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was looking forward to meeting with you on this occasion, but due to some other engagements and commitments, was unable to come to New York this year.
I am deeply honored and privileged to be with you here, where I am surrounded by true feelings of kindness and friendship that reflect the bonds that tie our countries and which are deeply rooted in Afro-Arab history.
It was also a great opportunity for me to have been honored to represent His Royal Highness Prince Saud al-Faisal at a reception hosted by the African ambassadors in Riyadh a few months ago for the purpose of celebrating Africa Day.
At that event, I spoke of the importance we in Saudi Arabia place on the relations with the African countries and the special place Africa holds in the history and culture of our country and our region since it was the first safe-haven for the Companions of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, when they fled with their new religion from the persecution by Quraysh in Makkah. In Africa they found security for themselves and their religion.
Africa refused on moral and humanitarian grounds all enticements and temptations to surrender its guests to their enemies. This was an act that stands as an ideal of African moral pride that will and should never be forgotten.
Based on this historic background, one can understand the brotherly relationship that ties the Arabs to the Africans. These are bonds that go beyond material interests and gains. It is within this context that the relationship of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its brothers in Africa can be defined, and it is for this reason that the Kingdom continues to do its utmost to consolidate these ties in all aspects and in a way that benefits us all.
We consider Africa to be an historical, geographical, and cultural depth to our area. That is why the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stood by the African countries during their struggle for national liberation until they gained their independence and restored their dignity and freedom.
With the same spirit and determination, together we stand today to fight for our common interests and common good, and to strive to achieve our goal of economic and social development in order to regain and restore our deserved place in the progress of human civilization.
Let me assure Your Excellencies that my country not only very much values our friendship and cooperation but also appreciates the important and effective role your countries play in international affairs and relations. We strongly believe that what is good for Saudi Arabia and its people is good for Africa and vice-versa.
Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the authorities in those African states who kindly received His Highness Prince Turki bin Muhammad, Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs, in such a gracious and friendly manner, as well as the support expressed to the nomination of the candidate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the position of Director-General of UNESCO.
I would like to reiterate the thanks and appreciation for this support, which we greatly value and depend on in the coming election. I would like to assure Your Excellencies that the candidate of the Kingdom will be representing Africa and the Arabs together with all that ties them in terms of history, culture and civilization, and that his election will be a victory for all of us.
I thank you once again and wish you all the success.