Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal held extensive talks yesterday with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who left Jeddah today after an official visit to the Kingdom, during which he was received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz and by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. At a joint press conference afterwards, Prince Saud expressed satisfaction at the talks, noting that they had focused on the Middle East situation and developments in Iraq as well as efforts to combat terrorism.
Referring to recommendations by the U.S. 9-11 Commission, Prince Saud reaffirmed the Saudi leadership’s welcome of reform, saying this is under way, with many changes such as authority given to the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura), the preparations for municipal elections, and the ongoing national dialogue sessions that are debating difficult matters facing the country. Pointing out the impossibility of “ready-made” reforms, he declared that the reform process must be in line with the desires of the people and the participation of all the citizens.
To a question on terrorists who do not represent true Islam, Secretary Powell referred to the fact that U.S. President George W. Bush had told Arab and Muslim leaders that Americans do not believe the acts of these killers reflect the beliefs of the Arab people. As for the Middle East, he confirmed that the United States will continue to work with the United Nations towards the final solution: a Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel.
Expressing the hope that security will soon be achieved in Iraq, with the alliance troops withdrawn and sovereignty restored, and in reference to discussions with Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Iyad Allawi during his ongoing visit to the Kingdom, Prince Saud indicated that in order to achieve peace in Iraq, the departing troops should be replaced with other peace-keeping troops from Muslim countries. He went on to reiterate that the re-opening of the Kingdom's Embassy in Baghdad depends entirely on the security situation.
Meanwhile, Dr Allawi and Secretary Powell held a meeting today, prior to their departure from Jeddah.