Saudi foreign minister calls for ‘firm’ stance against state sponsors of extremism

Prince Faisal bin Farhan also said the focus in any talks with Iran should be on ‘results and not optics’

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Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday urged the international community to take a firm position against states that sponsor extremism and terrorism in the Middle East.

In his address to the 77th UN General Assembly, Prince Faisal called for more serious action against extremism in the region.

“We must continue to work relentlessly to address this scourge that is affecting our region, and call on the international community to show itself firm with states that support terrorism and extremism, and that use that extremist ideology to expand and destroy,” he said.

Prince Faisal reaffirmed the Saudi position in calling for a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis along 1967 lines and with East Jerusalem as capital for the Arab state.

On Syria, he said Saudi Arabia wanted to restore stability in the war-torn country.

“My country insists that Security Council resolutions must be respected for the unity and stability and the Arab nature of Syria,” he said.

Similarly on Yemen, Prince Faisal expressed support for renewing the truce in the conflict and upholding UN Security Council resolutions.

He also warned of Afghanistan becoming a breeding ground for terrorism as it was in the 1990s.

“Afghanistan must not become a basis for terrorist operations or a breeding ground for terrorists,” Prince Faisal said.

He said Riyadh would welcome a negotiated solution for the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“We welcome all efforts that can bring about a political solution to put an end to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis in order to stop the fighting and preserve international and regional peace and security,” Prince Faisal said.

The top Saudi diplomat did not mention Iran by name, but called for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

“We call upon the international community to intensify efforts to counter proliferation of weapons and to make [sure the] Middle East is exempt from these weapons, an area free of these weapons,” he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan calls for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. Reuters.

Prince Faisal called on the International Atomic Energy Agency “to adopt serious measures to build confidence with our neighbours and the international community".

On Friday he told France 24 that the kingdom was looking for results in its dialogue with Iran, not mere optics.

Prince Faisal made the comments when asked if he was willing to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Baghdad.

Iraq has hosted four sessions of dialogue between Saudi and Iran.

But Prince Faisal appeared to be sceptical about Iran's intent.

“Reconciliation is definitely within reach, but it's within reach if there is the true intent on both sides," he said.

"We certainly have the intent to build positive relationships with our neighbors in Iran. We hope that they have the same."

He told The National on Friday that he held no meetings with Iranian officials in New York.

Updated: September 24, 2022, 10:58 PM