Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal yesterday held a joint press conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was in the Kingdom for talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
Prince Saud said that the talks focused on Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its repercussions on the entire region. These repercussions include other crises in the region as well as terrorism, he noted.
“The settlement of the dispute will positively contribute to the settlement of crises in the region in Lebanon or Iraq,” he said.
He remarked that Secretary Rice’s frequent visits to the region exemplify the attention devoted by the US to the issue and its interest in exploring ways to revive the peace process.
Any such effort must take into consideration the failures of previous talks and focus on substantive issues instead of wasting time on procedural matters, Prince Saud said. In addition, any efforts to revive talks must conform with the principles of international legitimacy, UN Security Council resolutions, the US-backed Road Map for Peace and the Arab Peace Initiative. An appropriate mechanism to implement requirements of the peace process should also be established, he said.
The Saudi-US talks also reviewed the situation in Lebanon. “We have emphasized the importance of realizing security and stability in Lebanon, and extending support to the efforts of its government which aim at spreading its authority throughout the Lebanese territories,” Prince Saud remarked.
On Iraq, Prince Saud said that the deteriorating situation there is a source of anxiety for Iraq’s neighbors. He expressed the hope that the national reconciliation program announced by the Iraqi Prime Minister would be implemented. Prince Saud also urged Iraq’s neighbors to take responsibility for helping Iraq enhance the pillars of security and stability through noninterference in its domestic affairs.
The Saudi-US talks also touched on nuclear proliferation in the region, the foreign minister said. He reiterated Saudi Arabia’s oft-stated position that the region should be free of weapons of mass destruction, and that the question of Iran’s nuclear program should be settled through peaceful negotiations. GCC member states are concerned about the spread of nuclear reactors along their coasts due to the anticipated negative impact on the environment, he said.
For her part, Secretary Rice said that she hoped there would be progress towards President Bush’s vision of a two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Secretary Rice also stressed the importance of supporting Lebanon and assisting the government there establish its authority throughout the country, and made it clear that Hezbollah must be disarmed.