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."

 

 


Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

Updated 24 February 2019
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Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

  • Heads of state, officials from EU and Arab League member countries to attend summit today
  • Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries

CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday will host heads of state, government officials and representatives from EU and Arab League member countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

Refugees and illegal immigration will top the agenda amid the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Syrians constitute the largest refugee population in Europe, followed by Eritreans then Afghans. 

According to unofficial statistics, Syrians are also the largest refugee population in the Arab world, followed by Yemenis, Libyans and Sudanese.

Hossam El-Khouli, secretary-general of the Egyptian Nation’s Future Party, said: “The EU … should call for the repatriation of refugees if conditions are appropriate.”

He said: “As for the right of asylum … a number of countries have granted asylum to criminals who have committed violent crimes against their own people and homelands.”

Summit participants intend to debate the necessity of combating this kind of migration, especially given its impact on the security and economy of many countries. 

Margaret Azer, an Egyptian lawmaker, said a country’s economic conditions are one of the main drivers of illegal immigration. 

“The decline of political conditions in several countries is (also) contributing to the rise in numbers of people seeking illegal immigration,” she told Arab News. 

“For example, we see that the biggest percentage of immigrants in Europe are from countries like Syria and Libya. The reason could also be religious or sectarian persecution, as is the case in Myanmar.”

Frontex President Fabrice Leggeri said although the number of migrants arriving in Europe dropped to 150,114 in 2018 compared to 204,750 in 2017, the agency continues to support border controls by providing more workers and technology.