Region in Crisis: Responses

Published: July 19, 2006

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Kingdom to Back UN Force
Samir Al-Saadi, Arab News

JEDDAH, 19 July 2006 — Saudi Arabia would support a UN-backed stabilization force in Lebanon if approved by the Lebanese government, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said yesterday.

“We support the Lebanese government affirming control over all of its territory,” said Prince Saud at a press conference at the ministry’s offices in Jeddah.

“The decision of war and peace belongs to the legitimate authorities, not any other party — otherwise there would be chaos,” the prince added.

The minister warned the international community of the critical situation in the Middle East, saying that inaction in dealing with Israel’s attack on Lebanon would result in new cycles of violence and a war with an unpredictable outcome.

“The priority now is to establish a cease-fire because there is no excuse for the continuation of hostilities if the purpose of the hostilities is to secure the release of the two soldiers. If that is going to happen, it will happen after the cease-fire,” said Prince Saud, referring to the two captured Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah at an unknown location.

Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia was following with concern and displeasure the Israeli assault on Lebanon and Palestinian land. He added that Saudi Arabia views Israel’s actions as all-out war that is deliberately targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure and civilians with disregard to all international laws and UN resolutions.

He called on the international community “to support the legitimate Lebanese government’s efforts to preserve its authority and supremacy over the whole of Lebanon.”

He said that the Kingdom is putting forth “utmost efforts with all influential parties” to end the current crisis.

On Saturday, the Saudi Press Agency reported that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah received a message from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The content of the communiqué was not disclosed.

When asked about Iran’s involvement in the conflict through its support of Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia’s stance on any potential actions directed at the country, Prince Saud said he would not name any names.

“Our view is that if there is any non-Arab intervention in the Arab world it should be for the good and in the interests of the Arab countries,” he said.

“What Lebanon needs right now is peace and not to gamble with its interests and its national unity. This is what the Kingdom wishes from all countries interested in Arab situation in general and Lebanon specifically,” said Prince Saud.

The prince warned that the stand taken by some countries in supporting Israel’s actions has stalled the UN Security Council actions in taking decisive resolutions to resolve this crisis.

Last week the US vetoed a UN resolution condemning Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

“What is happening in Lebanon is a real catastrophe right before our eyes and no one is doing anything to stop it,” said Prince Saud.

He said that Saudi Arabia had not yet decided its position in discussions between Arab countries on whether to hold an Arab summit over the crisis.

Crown Prince Sultan is due to begin a visit to France today. Prince Saud said Lebanon’s crisis would be on the agenda. France has been the most outspoken Western critic of the Israeli offensive, calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Source: Arab News

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