Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, in a speech in Evian, France yesterday at the summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, highlighted the Kingdom's main concerns on regional and international issues. Despite the introduction of a number of economic and structural reforms, he said, the economic situation in the Arab world is still unsatisfactory, as a result of the deteriorating political and economic situation in the Palestinian territories and the repercussions of the war in Iraq. He cited the Arab peace initiative that he had the honor to submit to the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut, and the initiative he presented this year, currently under consideration at the Arab League, proposing collective reform in the Arab political and economic situation. He called on the international community to exert efforts to ensure peace and stability by eliminating tension from the region, particularly that of the Arab-Israeli conflict, through implementation of the 'roadmap'. In this respect, he expressed appreciation of the initiative of U.S. President George W. Bush proposing a free trade zone with Middle East countries over a period of ten years. Such an initiative, he said, will have a positive effect on the region, including increased foreign investment, opening up of markets, and creation of job opportunities. He went on to stress that since development needs stability it is essential that the Arab-Israeli conflict ends, and that the Middle East is made a region free of weapons of mass destruction.
Turning to the issue of terrorism, a threat to the lives of innocent people as well as to the global economy, Crown Prince Abdullah declared that although great progress has been made, a lot of work still needs to be done to combat terrorism and its financing, adding: "Terrorism is a criminal phenomenon that has no nationality, ethnicity or religion. Our position is clear and firm. We stand firmly in condemning terrorism in all its forms and we support all international attempts and measures to combat it."
Crown Prince Abdullah pointed out that concerted efforts are also required to combat the problem of narcotics and money laundering, which threatens the safety of entire societies, declaring: "We believe that international efforts uniting to combat terrorism should also combat narcotics. In fact, we believe that success in the battle against narcotics and money laundering will facilitate, with God's help, the eradication of the other enemy: terrorism."