In his briefing in Riyadh today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal described the arrival in Iraq of the United Nations "fact finding mission" as a positive step towards that country regaining its national unity and full sovereignty over all its territory. He confirmed that Iraq will attend Saturday’s meeting in Kuwait of the foreign ministers of countries that are Iraq’s neighbors, declaring this will allow Iraq to inform the meeting of the needs of the Iraqi people. On Israel's seeking to open an embassy in Baghdad, he commented that this is a matter of sovereign right, and pointed out that if Israel wishes diplomatic relations with Arab countries, that is exactly what the Arab peace initiative at the Beirut Summit had proposed as one of the principles for normalization with the State of Israel prior to the establishment of peace. As for the form the Iraqi government will take, that, he said, is for the Iraqis themselves to decide.
On the Palestinian situation, Prince Saud reiterated the Kingdom’s call for immediate and decisive intervention to confront Israel’s unilateral policies that are compromising the peace process and reducing the chances of reaching a peaceful resolution. As to the Israeli segregating wall, he referred to the Kingdom’s January 27 memorandum to the International Court of Justice. He confirmed that the follow-up committee of the League of Arab States will meet to discuss conveying to the United Nations their interest in activating the Arab peace initiative, and in reviving the Middle East peace negotiations. He added that the Arab initiative, based on Saudi proposals, and the quartet’s ‘roadmap’ initiative are complementary.
Turning to other issues, Prince Saud denied reports of a crisis between the Kingdom and the Republic of Yemen on issues pertaining to their borders, and reiterated that the two countries are in full agreement on preventing smuggling. He confirmed the Saudi government’s plans to pardon detained teenagers who had been lured to take part in terrorist acts, as stated recently by Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz. He also confirmed that there is proof of links between Al-Qaeda and those detained for committing or being involved in acts of terrorism in the Kingdom, and that strict measures continue to be in place to dry up financing for terrorist groups.