Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal gave an address on “Leadership and Middle East Stability” at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania yesterday.
He noted that the Middle East region is faced with several conflicts, including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “Saudi Arabia has been working diligently to resolve all of them, and we continue to work with the U.S. to this end,” he said.
Commenting on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Prince Turki stressed the Kingdom’s oft-stated position that the Middle East should be a nuclear-free zone, including Israel. He also remarked that the Kingdom continues direct dialogue with Iran. “We speak directly with Iran on all issues. We find that talking with them is better than not talking with them,” he said.
Turning to Iraq, Prince Turki said that the Kingdom continues to work to bring stability to Iraq, and that a solution must come from within the country. “The struggle in Iraq is political, not sectarian or ethnic. Pure political ambition is driving the fighting, and only a political solution will stop it. Efforts to engage all parties must be strengthened,” he said.
On Lebanon, the ambassador reiterated the Kingdom’s support for the people of Lebanon, and called for Israeli withdrawal from the country:” The Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory, in Shaba'a Farms, drives Hizbollah’s military resistance to Israel. Remove Israeli occupation, and the Lebanese will disarm Hizbollah.”
Prince Turki also underscored the importance of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which lies at the heart of the region’s conflicts. He urged the United States and the international community to focus its efforts on restarting the peace process in line with the Abdullah Peace Plan and the Road Map.
After his speech, Prince Turki took questions from the audience about various aspects of Saudi policy and the latest developments in the region.Transcript of Prince Turki’s remarks