2006 Transcript

Transcript of Prince Saud Al-Faisal remarks at the White House
Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal press conference outside the White House following his meeting with President Bush on July 23, 2006. Translation from the Arabic.

PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL: I delivered a message from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques regarding putting an end to the bleeding in Lebanon. There was an agreement to preserve the lives and the properties of the Lebanese and what they had built with their own effort and to save this country from the ordeal it is facing.

Accordingly, a solution to the problem will not be achieved unless we help and stand beside Lebanon to establish its sovereignty over its territories as declared in the Taif Agreement and in accordance with the outcome of their national dialogue …. I think.

QUESTION: The New York Times reported today that the American government will ask you to exert pressures on Syria to distance itself from Hizballah and Iran. Is this true? Do you intent to do so?

PRINCE SAUD: We only discussed strengthening Lebanon to extend its sovereignty throughout its territories.

Q: With respect to the cease-fire. There is a clear American position against an immediate cease-fire and a linkage between what Washington describes as the root causes …. i.e, disarming Hizballah.

PRINCE SAUD: I didn’t see any objection to a cease-fire, its timing and the details it entails. Extending its sovereignty throughout its territories is the job of the Lebanese government. Obviously neither myself nor any other non-Lebanese official will do it.

Q: Did the President agreed to an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hizballah according to what the Saudi initiative called for?

PRINCE SAUD: I will not talk in the name of the President. I say, we agreed on the importance to put an end to the fighting to allow the Lebanese government to establish its sovereignty throughout its territories.

Q: How was the president’s response?

PRINCE SAUD: He supported that, and I think it’s time to conduct negotiation with the Lebanese Government to work out the details. I believe you all know that Ms. Rice will depart to the region to work on that.

Q (In English): Sir, what do you make of this administration’s reluctance to call for an immediate cease-fire?

PRINCE SAUD (In English): I found the president very conscious of the destruction and the bloodshed the Lebanese are suffering, and his anxiety to see the cessation of hostility. And I have heard that from him personally, and that is why he is sending Ms. Rice to work out the detail

Q (In English): Did you request an immediate cease-fire?

PRINCE SAUD (In English): We requested a cease-fire to allow for the cessation of hostilities and to allow for the rebuilding of the forces of Lebanon in order to establish its sovereignty over the whole of its territory. That is the important thing. You see, there is only one problem. It is Lebanon, and the inability of Lebanon to exercise its sovereignty over its territory. This is what we both agreed was the primary concern of everybody. And everybody who needs to help, who must help, should help.

We are not going to enter into details about this, and I am not going to say anything or be pushed into saying anything about this that will prejudice the secretary’s trip and the negotiations that she is going to undertake.