Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz arrived in Jeddah yesterday evening from Moscow. In an interview with the Interfax News Agency in Moscow prior to his departure, Crown Prince Abdullah stressed the importance of Saudi-Russian cooperation in oil production to preserve stability in the global oil market, citing Russian's existing coordination with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and praising Russia's efforts in supporting OPEC's initiatives aimed at realization of fair prices. [excerpts from transcript of interview]
Crown Prince Abdullah criticized the repressive measures undertaken by Israel against the Palestinians, saying Israel is not working genuinely for the settlement of the Middle East problem. On the situation in Iraq, he reiterated the Kingdom's support of international efforts for reconstruction of that country, expressing concern for relief of the sufferings of the Iraqi people as well as preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty and regional security; and stressed the need to form a constitutional government that represents the Iraqi people in order to pave the way for the end of military occupation. He expressed the hope that the Chechnya problem would be settled through the constitutional means within the framework of the Russian Federation. As for the war on terror, he condemned as "unjustified and baseless" accusations directed against Saudi Arabia since September 11.
Crown Prince Abdullah stated that Saudi Arabia and Russia both have enormous economic potential, and, referring to the newly-established Joint Saudi-Russian Commission, urged Saudi and Russian companies to cooperate in research as well as production projects in the gas and petroleum sectors, adding that the Kingdom views Russia as a partner and not as a competitor in this field. He praised Russia's support to OPEC, which, he said, has contributed greatly to the stability of the oil market.
A joint Saudi-Russian statement was issued yesterday, saying that the two sides had agreed to cooperate closely to establish a just and firm peace in the Middle East based on UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, the concept of 'land for peace', the Arab initiative approved by the Beirut summit, and the 'roadmap' plan. The statement said the two sides expressed support for the 'quartet' of international mediators; stressed the right of Palestinians to establish their independent and sovereign state with Al-Quds [East Jerusalem] as its capital; called for resumption of negotiations on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks; and urged that the Middle East be a region free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. On Iraq, the two sides stressed the importance of maintaining the independence, unity and sovereignty of Iraq; and strengthening of the role of the United Nations. The two sides condemned terrorism all its forms and expressed their determination to fight it in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The statement added that the Saudi side expressed appreciation and understanding of Russia's desire to expand its cooperation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
On relations between the two countries, the statement highlighted the intent to boost bilateral cooperation, notably in commerce and energy; listed the various agreements that had been signed during the visit; and reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had accepted an invitation to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the date to be set later.
During his visit, in addition to extensive talks with Russian officials, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mikhaylovich, Crown Prince Abdullah met with Christian as well as Muslim leaders, visited the Saudi school in Moscow, went to the office of the Mayor of Moscow, inaugurated an exhibition of Saudi products organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, and toured the city of Moscow.