Saudi Crown Prince tells Asean summit civilians 'paying the price' of Israel-Gaza war

Asean summit calls for an immediate ceasefire

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman addresses the GCC-Asean summit in Riyadh. SPA
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened a summit between GCC and Asian nations by saying innocent civilians are "paying the price" of the Israel-Hamas war.

The summit, between GCC members and Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) was taking place in Riyadh on Friday, with full participation from South-East Asia leaders.

Leaders collectively condemned the attacks on Gaza and called for access to humanitarian aid and relief supplies, as well as the restoration of electricity and water.

They also called for the unhindered delivery of fuel, food and medicine to the enclave.

The Saudi Crown Prince said: ‬⁩”It pains us as we gather to see the escalating violence that Gaza is witnessing today, the price of which is being paid by innocent civilians.”

Leaders urged concerned parties to adhere to international humanitarian law, specifically those in the Geneva Convention regarding the protection of civilians during times of war, as well as supporting peace initiatives mapped out by Saudi Arabia, the EU and the Arab League.

Member states emphasised the importance of reviving the Middle East peace process, co-ordinating with the efforts of Jordan and Egypt.

Prince Mohammed said: ”Conditions must be created for the return of stability, reaching a just solution, establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, and stopping military operations against civilians and infrastructure.

“We affirm our categorical rejection of targeting civilians in any way and under any pretext and the necessity of stopping military operations and creating conditions to achieve lasting peace that guarantees the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Prince Mohammed reassured summit members: ‎”Our countries will continue to be a safe and reliable source of energy in its various sources and maintain the stability of energy markets globally.”

GCC member states signed the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in South-East Asia, established in 1976 and which embodies universal principles of peaceful coexistence and friendly co-operation among states in South-East Asia.

Bahrain was the first Gulf country to join the treaty, signing it in November 2019 in Thailand. Gulf countries' exports to Asean countries constitute 9 per cent of their total exports.

Leaders began arriving in the Saudi capital on Thursday and stood together for a memorial picture before it began on Friday.

Prince Mohammed received UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who is participating in the summit, upon his arrival in the capital, Riyadh, early on Friday. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa were also at the summit.

On the Asean side are Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. The GCC bloc contains Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE.

The joint statement of the Asean summit called for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and civilian detainees, especially women, children, the sick and the elderly, and urged all parties involved to work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The leaders emphasised the need for consultations to explore co-operation in specific areas of common interest, such as co-operation in the maritime field, communications, sustainable development goals, the economic field, and other possible areas of co-operation.

‎The joint statement also stated that all countries are in favour of Saudi Arabia’s candidacy to host Expo 2030 in Riyadh as well as its candidacy to host the 2034 Fifa World Cup. All members welcomed the announcement of the establishment of an international water organisation based in the city of Riyadh.

‎After Saudi Arabia announced its initiative for a green Middle East, the kingdom said it would set up a secretariat dedicated to the initiative and the allocation of $2.5 billion to support its projects.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, leading the 10-nation summit, called for an end to violence in Gaza.

The next summit will be held in Malaysia in 2025.

Updated: October 20, 2023, 2:42 PM