Prince Saud addresses the Islamic Summit in Dakar

March 14, 2008

The 11th Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit began deliberations yesterday in Dakar, Senegal. The Saudi delegation to the conference was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

In an address to the conference, Prince Saud touched on a number of key regional issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Lebanon, the crisis in Darfur and Iran’s nuclear file. He also highlighted the importance of combating poverty and called for Islamic unity as well as greater economic cooperation among OIC member states.

On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Prince Saud said that Saudi Arabia participated in the Annapolis peace conference last year with the assurances that the fundamental issues, including Jerusalem, would be addressed within a specific timeframe. However, time is running out to implement the commitments made at Annapolis, he warned, adding that the Kingdom sees only a continuation of Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people and a policy of collective punishment.

The prince called on the international community, and key players in particular, to actively move the peace process forward.

On Iraq, Prince Saud noted that relative improvement in the security situation has not been accompanied by progress at the political level. The Iraqi government must seek to achieve national reconciliation based on equality for all Iraqis without any sort of outside interference, he said.

Turning to Lebanon, the Saudi foreign minister said that Saudi Arabia looks forward to an effective Syrian role in resolving the political crisis in Lebanon within the framework of the Arab League initiative to achieve national reconciliation.

Regarding Iran, Prince Saud expressed the hope that the crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear file would be settled peacefully and not escalate. He reiterated the Kingdom’s call for a Middle East and Gulf region free of nuclear weapons and defended the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

In his address, Prince Saud also highlighted efforts to combat poverty, a key topic on the summit’s agenda. He drew attention to Saudi Arabia’s $1 billion contribution to an OIC fund to combat poverty in the Muslim world and urged member states to contribute so that the fund can achieve its goal of raising $10 billion.

Also yesterday, Prince Saud held separate meetings with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Sheikh Abdullahi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The meetings focused on bilateral relations with the respective countries in addition to topics on the summit’s agenda.

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