Monday, January 22, 2007

Kingdom to Study NATO Proposal

Raid Qusti, Arab News
RIYADH, 22 January 2007 — Saudi Arabia yesterday said it would study a NATO proposal to join four other GCC countries in the NATO's Istanbul Summit Communiqué, but said that there must be a complete understanding of its regional goals and agendas.

"The Kingdom will study the proposal submitted by NATO to join the Istanbul Summit," said Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal yesterday. The symposium, "NATO and the GCC: Cooperation Within the Framework of the Istanbul Summit," was opened by Prince Saud.

Others attending included NATO's Deputy Secretary-General Alessandro Minuto Rizo, GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, various European ambassadors and other officials.

NATO earlier submitted a proposal that the Kingdom sign the Istanbul Summit communiqué in the areas of exchanging information, experience and technical cooperation to combat terror in addition to border security. Other GCC states which signed the communiqué in 2004 are Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain.

The NATO deputy secretary-general said that it would be in the Kingdom's interest to sign the communiqué, adding that it had many "benefits". He also said NATO wants the cooperation of GCC countries. He said that in order for countries to confront global challenges, "we must overcome barriers such as religious, cultural, and geographical borders."

Prince Saud explained the grounds on which the Kingdom bases its foreign policy: its national unity, its responsibility to serve Arab and Islamic causes and its adherence to international resolutions in the face of global problems.

He also said among the Kingdom's foreign policy agendas was putting its national interests first. "We will not allow our national unity to be bargained for, neither will we take it for granted," he stressed. He said that establishing peace in the Middle East — Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia — was a "major part of solving global security."

He also said that providing regional security would guarantee the smooth flow of global energy and the maintenance of a stable global economy.

The foreign minister said that radical ideology existed and fed and grew out of desperation. "It grows from desperation as a result of the global community's failure to resolve disputes based on international treaties," he said. The Kingdom, he noted, was a major player in combating radicalism and terrorism "by promoting the virtues of peace, balance, and mutual respect between cultures."

He said that winning the battle against terrorism required "having citizens side with the efforts of governments" and that this required political, ideological, and media collaboration on all sides.

He cited the example of how Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah had called an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to tackle the issues of radicalism and terrorism, saying that all countries voiced their resolve to combat the global threat.

He also said King Abdullah had called for the establishment of an international conference under the UN which would exchange intelligence and information in order to combat terror in all its forms.

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