Mr. President, Your Excellency the Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are gathered today in response to the kind invitation of His Excellency the Secretary General to mobilize support for Iraq. We are here to seek to combine our efforts within the framework of an international compact to assist a country devastated for decades by destructive wars and harsh domestic political conditions. Two years after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1546, and more than four years after allied forces entered Baghdad, Iraq remains in the throes of instability and sectarian violence.
We are also increasingly witnessing divisions and separations between Iraqis that run contrary to a long history of integration and obviously constitutes a significant risk for the immediate and long-term future of Iraq. Civil war is the worst thing that a country may face, for it has no winners, only victims. I would like to emphasize also the ongoing importance of refraining from interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs or infringing upon its sovereignty, independence and identity. For what today’s Iraq needs most of all is to exercise and preserve precisely the sovereignty, independence and identity which foster its territorial and national unity.
It must be ensured therefore that all initiatives affecting the future of Iraq come from within, and reflect the free and independent will of all the Iraqi people. Undoubtedly, Iraqi religious leaders from all sects have a duty to employ their influence in the promotion of unity, brotherhood and solidarity among all Iraqis.
The political process in Iraq has brought a succession of positive and constructive steps, foremost of which has been the establishment of the legitimate government. The focus of this meeting is necessarily on supporting the Iraqi government and the program of Prime-Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, which aims to achieve a national reconciliation, to reinvigorate the security, military, political and economic institutions of the country, and to disarm the militias.
The Iraqi people have suffered a great deal from three wars in just two decades, exhausting Iraq’s resources and weakening its social fabric. Nonetheless, Iraq remains a country rich in human and natural resources that should enable the country to prosper and to meet the needs of its people. Effective coordination among all donor countries and regional and international organizations will ensure that our contributions and efforts provide the greatest benefit to all efficiently.
Owing to my country’s attachment to helping our Iraqi brothers overcome this ordeal, the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques pledged one billion dollars in support of Iraq at the Madrid Conference. Of this total, 500 million dollars are to be provided through the Saudi Development Fund to finance development projects in the areas of education, health, infrastructure and housing, in response to direct requests submitted by the Iraqi Government. The remaining 500 million dollars are to finance trade between the two countries. In addition, Saudi Arabia has already provided humanitarian and relief assistance to Iraq amounting to approximately 88 million dollars.
Saudi Arabia, furthermore, has expressed its readiness to consider alleviating the burden of the official debts owed it by Iraq, and has provided the Iraqi side with the necessary information. In response to our invitation, an Iraqi delegation is expected to visit the Kingdom to discuss these issues in more detail.
The Saudi private sector, with its significant resources, stands ready to execute and to contribute to reconstruction projects, either independently or in collaboration with private sector companies from other countries.
I would like to reiterate once more my thanks to all participants, and to the Secretary General for arranging and organizing this important meeting, hoping that its results will contribute in responding to the aspirations of the Iraqi people.
Thank you for listening.