Al-Jubeir: Saudi Arabia to engage with Russia to support Syria political solution

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) speaks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir during their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 29 August 2018
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Al-Jubeir: Saudi Arabia to engage with Russia to support Syria political solution

  • Saudi-Russian relations have witnessed a 'quantum leap'
  • Ministers discuss plans for a visit to the Kingdom by Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia has stressed to Russia the need for a political solution to the Syria conflict, the foreign minister said on Wednesday. 

Speaking at a joint press conference in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Adel Al-Jubeir said they had held talks on a range of issues in the Middle East. 

Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom had highlighted the importance of implementing the UN Security Council resolution adopted in 2015 that called for a ceasefire and a political settlement in the country, where war has been raging for seven years. 

He said there needed to be a political solution that “preserves Syria’s territorial integrity, security, and stability as well as the safety of citizens regardless of their religion or race.”

Saudi Arabia, along with western and other Arab countries have backed the main rebel forces in Syria against President Bashar Assad. Russia, however, has been one of the biggest supporters of the regime, providing military support which enabled Al-Assad to gain the upper hand in the conflict. 

Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would “cooperate with the Syrian opposition to close ranks regarding the future of Syria.”

“We will also engage with our brothers in Russia in supporting the political process,” Al-Jubeir added. 

The meeting between the two ministers comes as the countries seek to improve economic and political ties.

Relations have witnessed a “quantum leap in the past three years in the fields of trade, security, counterterrorism and political coordination in the challenges facing the region and the world,” Al-Jubeir said

On the war in Yemen, he said Saudi Arabia had consulted with Russia and other friends on the situation and highlighted the importance of reaching a political solution.

He said Saudi Arabia believed the Iran nuclear deal with world powers, including Russia, was weak, “particularly with regard to the time period that prevents Iran from enriching uranium.” 

He added that it did not include Iran’s support for terrorism and violation of UN resolutions on ballistic missiles.

Lavrov said he had agreed on plans with Al-Jubeir for a visit of Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia.

The foreign ministers’ meeting comes amid speculation that Syrian forces backed by Russia and Iran are preparing for an offensive to retake one of the last rebel strongholds.

Lavrov called on the West not to stand in the way of an “anti-terror operation” in Idlib province.

Lavrov also said that there is “full political understanding” between Russia and Turkey, which supports the rebels, but they are currently in intense negotiations to ensure Idlib does not become a breaking point in their alliance.

“It is necessary to disassociate the so-called moderate opposition from terrorists and at the same time prepare an operation against them while minimising risks for the civilian population," Lavrov said.

"This abscess needs to be liquidated."

 

 


Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

Updated 27 June 2019
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Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

  • Mnuchin confident of raising the first $4 billion soon

MANAMA: Jared Kushner’s “workshop” aimed at securing economic prosperity for Palestine closed with optimistic forecasts from President Donald Trump’s special adviser that it could be the basis for a forthcoming political deal with Israel.

Kushner told journalists at a post-event briefing: “I think that people are all leaving very energized, very pleasantly surprised at how many like-minded people they see. It is a solvable problem economically, and the reason why we thought it was important to lay out the economic vision before we lay out the political vision is because we feel we need people to see what the future can look like.

“The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true. We want to show them that this is the plan, this is what can happen if there is a peace deal.”

The next stage, before a political deal is attempted, will be to get feedback from the event and agree to commitments for the $50 billion package for Palestine and other regional economies.

“I think you need $50 billion to really do this the right way, to get a paradigm shift,” Kushner added.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I could not be happier how this has gone,” adding that he was “highly confident we will soon have the first $4 billion. It’s going to be like a hot initial public offering.”

Most of the attendees at the event in Manama, Bahrain, gave Kushner’s economic proposals a serious hearing and agreed it was a useful exercise. Mohammed Al-Shaikh, Saudi minister of state, said: “Can it be done? Yes it can, because it was done before. In the mid-1990s to about the year 2000 there was a global coordinated effort by the US and other countries. I was at the World Bank at the time. I saw it. If we could do it then with significantly less money we can do it again.”

Others warned, however, that there was still a long way to go on the political aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Middle East peace envoy, said a political deal was essential.

“This is an economic plan that, if it is implemented, is going to do enormous good for the Palestinian people. But it isn’t a substitute for the politics. There will be no economic peace. There will be a peace that will be a political component and an economic component. The economy can help the politics and the politics is necessary for the economy to flourish.

“The politics has got to be right in this sense as well. The obvious sense people talk about is how do you negotiate the contours of the boundaries of a Palestinian state in a two state solution,” Blair said.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, highlighted the work the fund has done in conflict situations. “We had an exceptional result in Rwanda, and a good economic outcome in Mozambique,” she said. But she contrasted this with disappointing results in other African conflicts.

Lagarde said that the aim of the economic plan should be to create jobs. “The focus should be on job-intensive industries, like agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.”

Willem Buiter, special economic adviser to US banking giant Citi, said there were obstacles to the Kushner plan succeeding. “Necessary conditions for any progress are peace, safety and security. And there must be high-quality governance and the rule of law in Palestine,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jared Kushner believes the conflict is a ‘solvable problem economically.’

• The senior adviser vows to lay out political plans at the right time.

• Expert urges external funding in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans.

He also suggested external funding should be in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans. “We should not burden a country trying to escape from its past with high debts,” he added.

Some attendees warned of the risks to investor funds in the current political situation in the Middle East. 

But Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Risk is not new to the region. We’ve tackled it for the past 30 to 40 years, but that has not stopped investment flowing in.

“Investors trade risk for return, and the Middle East has learned to cope with risk and conflict. There are pockets where the risk is high and Palestine is one of them. But I remain positive. The return in the region is higher to compensate for the risk,” he added.

At a session of regional finance ministers, Mohammed Al-Jadaan of Saudi Arabia said: “The region is in desperate need of prosperity and hope. There is a way forward, but you need political commitment.”

UAE Finance Minister Obaid Al-Tayer added: “We are decoupling politics from economics. If it’s the only initiative on the table we should all give it a chance.”