In his statement to the 62nd UN General Assembly today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal warned that the Middle East region faces escalating conflicts in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia.
Addressing the region’s crises must begin with resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, Prince Saud said. To that end, the Arab Peace Initiative is a “unique and historical” opportunity to reinvigorate the peace process.
“No regional crisis has greater potential to affect other regional conflicts or world peace than [the Arab-Israeli] conflict,” he noted. “Neglecting to find a just and comprehensive solution to this conflict provides a suitable environment for the spread of extremism and terrorism and would impose a festering plague that will grow in intensity and complexity with time.”
Commenting on President Bush’s call for an international peace conference on Palestine, the Saudi foreign minister stated that the success of the conference depends on addressing final status issues – including Jerusalem, borders, and refugees – in a clear, direct way with timeframes.
He urged the international community to change its approach to the conflict and called on Israel to ease the daily suffering of the Palestinian people and end settlement activity as well as construction of its wall.
Turning to Iraq, Prince Saud stressed the Kingdom’s support for Iraqi unity, independence, sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs. It remains the responsibility of the Iraqi government to achieve a comprehensive national reconciliation, he said.
On Lebanon, the Saudi foreign minister said that Saudi Arabia remains “deeply and profoundly concerned” about the ongoing political crises in Lebanon and external interference in its affairs. He decried the recent political assassinations there and emphasized the importance of holding presidential elections “in accordance with the constitution, free from interference, intimidation and external sabotage.”
Prince Saud noted Saudi Arabia’s recent efforts to resolve crises in Somalia and Sudan, citing a successful Somali national reconciliation conference held in Saudi Arabia in September 2007 and an agreement on Darfur between Sudan and Chad that was brokered by the Kingdom in May 2007. He welcomed international efforts to establish peacekeeping forces in both Darfur and Somalia.
On other issues, Prince Saud reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and drew attention to the Kingdom’s ongoing foreign aid to countries in need. He also stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to fighting terrorism and extremism, and strongly rejected linking Islam to terrorism.
Transcript of Prince Saud’s statement