Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal, in his regular press briefing today, extended his condolences to the families, Saudi and expatriate, of the victims of the terrorist bombings that took place in Riyadh on Monday, and wished speedy recovery to the injured. He confirmed the death toll as 34, with 194 injured.
Prince Saud referred to yesterday's address to the nation by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in which he declared that these criminal acts are tantamount to a war launched against the Kingdom, and reiterated the Saudi government's determination to confront this war. Citizens and officials, he said, share responsibility to combat these acts of terrorism, including rooting out not only the perpetrators, but their supporters and sympathizers. The phenomenon of international terrorism, he declared, threatens the security and stability of all members of the international community, and there is a need to intensify global efforts to combat it in all its forms. He affirmed that the Kingdom is committed to play its role in this regard and strike severely anyone who tries to destabilize the country's security and misuse and distort the principles of Islam. While admitting that the recent incident is an indication of shortcomings, he stressed that "we should learn from our mistakes so as to improve our performance".
Commenting on the report that a number of countries had alerted their embassies in Riyadh of the imminence of a bombing attack, Prince Saud declared that the entire world in fact lives in expectation of such incidents, and that this kind of alert is not exceptional. While confirming that the Kingdom is working to tighten security around diplomatic missions on Saudi territory, he pointed out that no foreign embassy in Riyadh had requested this. In one sense, he added, the attack has failed, because the perpetrators have "turned this country into one fist aimed at staunching the heinous wound in the body of this nation so that it will not reopen". He denied that Saudi-U.S. relations have been negatively affected by the bombing, and expressed the belief that the incident had served to further unite the world against terrorism.
Prince Saud outlined the extent of recent international contacts, citing his recent talks in Moscow and London, and visits to the Kingdom by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Kuwait's foreign and interior ministers, Austria's foreign minister, and from the European Union, the foreign policy chief, and the special envoy for peace in the Middle East.
In all these talks, Saudi Arabia stressed the importance of restoring security and stability in Iraq through focusing on the restoration of order in Iraqi cities, with the Iraqis themselves operating the basic services and running the day-to-day affairs, as a step towards establishing a constitutional government in Iraq. Also discussed during these talks was a draft resolution on Iraq to be presented to the United Nations Security Council.
Turning to the Middle East peace process, Prince Saud declared that the Kingdom seeks to expedite implementation of the road map, which reflects the Arab peace initiative as a comprehensive way of dealing with the dispute in the region. There is, he said, an opportunity for a resolution by the Security Council, to adopt the road map and provide new momentum for the efforts aimed at resumption of the peace process and enhancement of security and stability in the Middle East.