UNGA 2021: Saudi king tells UN kingdom supports efforts to prevent nuclear Iran

King Salman also says Arab world's biggest donor will not cut back on Covid aid to nations in need

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that his kingdom supports efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, as world leaders prepare to resume talks with Tehran to reinstate a 2015 nuclear pact.

"The kingdom insists on the importance of keeping the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, on this basis we support international efforts aiming at preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons," he said in a pre-recorded video address to the annual gathering.

"Iran is a neighbouring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to concrete results to build confidence ... based on... respect of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs."

His remarks followed a call by Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi to resume nuclear talks with world powers that would lead to the removal of US sanctions.

King Salman also promised at the UNGA that Saudi Arabia would remain a top international donor in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and other humanitarian crises despite the country’s economic troubles.

He said $800 million worth of Saudi donations was already helping poor nations fight Covid-19 and the kingdom would continue paying despite its shrinking coffers.

“Despite our economic difficulties, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to be committed to its developmental and humanitarian role in assisting the most needy states and the most affected states to confront national natural catastrophes and humanitarian crises,” the king said.

Riyadh, like most oil-producers, was impacted by the twin shock of Covid-19 and record-low oil prices. The economy has rebounded this year, however, amid easing coronavirus-related restrictions, a vaccine roll-out and higher crude prices.

From Iraq to Syria and Libya, the kingdom will work towards peaceful solutions to problems, including the hydroelectric dam being built by Ethiopia on the Nile that has irked downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan, the king said.

“The foreign policy of the kingdom gives utter priority to entrenching peace, security and stability and to supporting dialogue and peaceful solutions,” King Salman said.

“We want to set up conditions conducive for development and ones that achieve the aspirations of peoples for a better future in the Middle East.”

- Reuters contributed to this report.

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 3:52 PM