Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal discussed the importance of French President Jacques Chirac’s visit to the Kingdom, which concluded yesterday, and noted the positive impact of the visit on Saudi-French relations.
In a press conference yesterday, Prince Saud said that the Saudi-French talks had focused on regional issues such as the Palestinian situation, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran’s nuclear program in addition to bilateral relations. Both Saudi Arabia and France are interested in enhancing the pillars of peace and security in the region and beyond, Prince Saud said, and both nations also advocate using diplomacy to settle disputes.
The Saudi-French talks also addressed bringing Hamas into the negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Prince Saud said. “Of course, it was discussed thoroughly, because of the great interest of both countries in following up the oldest conflict in the world now, and the effort to see through to a solution is one of the primary concerns of both leaders,” he remarked.
Prince Saud reiterated the Kingdom’s position that the international community should not prejudge the new Palestinian government. “Everybody knows that governments when they are formed after elections don’t necessarily hold to what they have said during the election time. What is important to hear is what they say after becoming a government, and they are going to do we are not going to prejudge, neither us nor France,” he said.
A Hamas delegation will visit Saudi Arabia in the next few days, Prince Saud said. “We are going to meet them [Hamas leaders] here probably in the next few days. As to conditions, we put no conditions on them. We hope that as a government, they will represent the interests of the Palestinian people. We are waiting for them to show as to what kind of leadership they are going to provide to the Palestinian movement. We are not prejudging or putting conditions on them.”
On Iraq, Prince Saud said that both Saudi Arabia and France were waiting to see what kind of program the new government would adopt. “Our position, both, about Iraq is we want to assure the unity, the territorial integrity and the prosperity of the country,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and France also share similar views about Lebanon, Prince Saud said. “Both France and Saudi Arabia have only one interest in mind, and that is the stability and prosperity of Lebanon and its independence. That’s all we are hoping for,” he said. If Lebanon needs help, “I am sure both countries will respond positively. But as long as they are tackling their issues on their own, we are very glad that they are doing so and very hopeful that they will succeed.”
In response to a question about Iran’s nuclear program, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom supports a region free of weapons of mass destruction.