Highlighting the significance of the recently-concluded visit to France by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal commented in a statement published yesterday in the Paris daily ‘Le Figaro’ that the Crown Prince and French President Jacques Chirac had reiterated their desire for more joint ventures and greater commercial exchange between the two countries. They did not, he said, discuss the purchase of planes, or the French capability in railroad construction; and no agreements in this respect were signed during the visit.Meanwhile, it was announced today that Crown Prince Abdullah’s scheduled visit to Canada has been postponed, in consideration of the ongoing elections in that country.
On the Lebanon crisis, Prince Saud, commenting that Syria has unconditionally accepted implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, declared that it is high time for the Lebanese to unify their ranks, form a transitional government and hold elections to ensure the stability of the country.
On the Arab peace initiative that was approved by the Beirut Arab Summit but rejected by Israel, Prince Saud called the rejection “sad and tragic”, saying Israel turned the project down without taking into consideration the constant bloodshed of both Israelis and Arabs. Regarding the outcome of the U.S. visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he commented that it is bad that Israel’s right to maintain some of its settlements is preserved, but it is good that U.S. President George W. Bush called for an end to settlement expansion. The Israelis, he said, must act in a way that makes them acceptable by the region's countries; they have missed an opportunity by rejecting the Arab peace plan.
On the situation in Iraq, Prince Saud hoped that the factions which had not participated in the general elections would join the political process, noting that failure to do so will have an adverse impact on Iraq’s stability.
On the Iranian nuclear project, Prince Saud affirmed the Kingdom’s stance that the Middle East and Gulf region should be free of all weapons of mass destruction, and said Iran has confirmed its belief in this policy.