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Saud Rules Out Ties With Israel Before Peace Deal

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Guest Sulemaan

P.K. Abdul Ghafour


Arab News


JEDDAH, 28 February 2005  Saudi Arabia will not make any contacts or relations with israel until the Jewish state signs a comprehensive peace deal with Arabs, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has said.


“If there is total peace and every Arab country signs the peace treaty that was proposed (by Crown Prince Abdullah) and accepted by the Beirut conference in 2002,� he replied when The Washington Post asked him about the conditions to establish some kind of relations with israel.


He said the Arab proposal called for total peace and total withdrawal to the 1967 borders. “We are pleased to see British Prime Minister Tony Blair urging a continuation of the peace process and a return to the road map,� he said about the March 1-2 peace conference in London.


Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia’s relations with the United States were going well. “The relationship with the government of the United States is healthy. It has become healthier recently. Compared to the warmth that existed before Sept. 11, we are reaching gradually the level of comfort and warmth we enjoyed before. The US government knows what we have done about terrorism, and they know that we are reforming,� he added.


Asked about Iraqi elections and how will a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad would affect Saudi Arabia, he said: “I don’t think there is any reason to prefer a majority of one sect or another as long as the constitution ensures the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq. Democracy is not the right of the majority alone. It is also the protection of the rights of the minority.�


Speaking to the BBC television, Prince Saud said Saudi women might be allowed to vote in the next round of municipal elections. “The commissioner of elections said after the elections for municipal councils that they went so well and testing the water proved so appealing that the commissioner is going to suggest to the government to have women vote in the next municipal elections,� he added.


Prince Saud praised the Palestinian president’s peace credentials. “Mahmoud Abbas has absolutely the right credentials for a peace negotiator but what is really discouraging is on the other side we have somebody who has done everything to stop any peace movement from achieving its goals,� the Saudi minister said.


“I hope he (Sharon) proves me wrong and most people wrong because most people really do not see how it is possible for somebody who has lived for so long with a certain held view that the only way there is a good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian... can have turned his skin to the extent that he becomes a peacemaker. “But miracles do happen and I hope there is a miracle in this instance,� the prince told the television.

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