Saudi Arabia’s Faisal bin Farhan: A united GCC will help to combat Covid-19

Foreign minister also says talks will be held with the new US administration on Iran

epa08937052 A handout photo made available by the press service of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry shows Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud during a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov following their talks in Moscow, Russia, 14 January 2021. The Saudi foreign minister is on a working visit to Moscow.  EPA/RUSSIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTRY HANDOUT -- MANDATORY CREDIT -- HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

A united GCC will help in the fight against Covid-19, a senior Saudi official said, and he looked ahead to talks with the new US administration over how to deal with Iran.

Foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told the World Economic Forum that it was important that the GCC was in full co-operation. Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt restored ties with Qatar earlier this month.

He said that without regional co-operation, it was much harder to have effective global action on important issues.

“That co-operation will only serve to bolster the global co-operation. We’ve heard again today that all the challenges that we face as a global community require working together, whether it’s something as novel as the Covid-19 outbreak – I’m sure we will have other similar challenges in the future – but also things like climate change,” he said.

Prince Faisal said it was important that there was equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine, adding that it was important momentum was maintained despite some “unfortunate loss of that spirit”.

He did not single out any particular example, but the European Union and the UK are currently engaged in a dispute over vaccine access.

Asked about his views on the policies of US President Joe Biden’s new administration and Europe towards the Middle East, Prince Faisal – who once served as the Saudi ambassador to Germany – said his country was quite confident that by working together, the regional issues would be overcome.

“I think the region, and the region’s security, remains a key focus for both Europe and the US.

“We’ve heard a very clear statement from the Biden administration and the key people on foreign policy in the Biden administration that they are going to address the challenges within our region with very open eyes and a clear focus on making sure that we continue to have stability and security,” he said.

“We are of course going to have a dialogue about the various regional challenges, not least Iran’s destabilising activity and its ramping up of its nuclear programme.”

He said Saudi Arabia saw the challenges “as posing a risk, not just to the region but to the global community and global prosperity.”