At his weekly press conference today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal affirmed that all concerned are exerting efforts to avoid war and settle the Iraqi crisis peacefully, while protecting the Iraqi people and maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity; and reiterated the Kingdom's policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other states. He referred to the patience and wisdom in the words of U.S. President George W. Bush that the military option is the last, not the only resort, and expressed the hope that this spirit would prevail.
Prince Saud reported that Saudi Arabia's leadership had held intensive talks last week with a number of senior officials from Turkey, Jordan and Syria, to discuss the Iraqi situation; and he himself had visited Cairo for that purpose. He went on to express the hope that the meeting tomorrow in Istanbul of six foreign ministers from the region will have a positive outcome that will save Iraq from war, reiterating that the Arab states should be given a chance to try to resolve the crisis peacefully even if the United Nations authorizes military action. He commented that Saudi Arabia has made arrangements to deal with any possible influx of refugees from Iraq, but added that it is to be hoped that nothing like that will happen. In answer to another question, he said he had not heard from Turkey about a possible call by that country for Saddam Hussein to step down.
Asked whether Saudi Arabia would allow the use of its bases in military action against Iraq, Prince Saud stated that the Kingdom's position is not to participate in any armed conflict against Iraq, but added that if the United Nations Security Council made the request, Saudi Arabia would study the matter and come to a decision in accordance with its national interests. The Prince Sultan base, he said, is operating as usual, regardless of the current military preparedness in the region for a possible attack against Iraq, and its operations will continue to be, as they have always been, within the Safwan Agreement reached in 1991 following the end of Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.
On the Palestinian situation, Prince Saud confirmed Egypt's role in helping the Palestinian factions to determine their future strategy, and that efforts are being made to find the best way of making domestic reforms in Palestine.
As for investment in the Kingdom's oil and gas sectors, Prince Saud said negotiations with international petroleum companies are close to agreement on Core Venture 3 while responses on Core Venture 1 are very positive.