2002 News Story

Arab foreign ministers at White House meeting on Middle East

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal was received at the White House in Washington DC yesterday by U.S. President George W. Bush, as were Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Al-Muasher, for talks on the Middle East peace process. The meeting was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

Welcoming the three Arab foreign ministers in a statement prior to meeting with them, President Bush observed that his vision of peace in the Middle East is focused on the existence of two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security, and confirmed that this vision takes into account the human sufferings of the Palestinian people. To his assertion that there are responsibilities on the Israelis as well as on the Palestinians, and on the United States as well as on the States of the region, Prince Saud later commented: "We were very pleased and very heartened that he laid equal responsibilities on both sides." Following the talks, Prince Saud referred to them as "excellent and encouraging". A joint statement with Ministers Maher and Al-Muasher declared: "Our presence in Washington comes within the framework of the committee on the Arab peace initiative that was endorsed by the Arab States during their recent summit meeting in Beirut. We have urged President Bush to make [this initiative] as part of the peace plan because it describes and defines the final solution towards achieving peace in the Middle East." President Bush, Prince Saud said, had affirmed U.S. commitment towards final fulfillment of the mideast peace process, and that efforts towards peace are moving on three parallel tracks, political, security and economic. Welcoming Bush's tenacity in moving towards peace until the end, he confirmed that the Arab leaders had re-asserted the commitment of all Arab states to the peace process, especially that of the Palestinians, who have been working hard to reach a peaceful settlement. In reply to a question about the U.S. administration's view of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Prince Saud referred to President Bush's statement prior to the talks in which he remarked that the issue of peace is bigger than the involvement of one person, and that the talks would focus on how to build the constitutional institutions that could represent the real will of the Palestinian people.