Sri Lankan envoy to Saudi Arabia vows to stand firm against terrorism

Catholic nuns and others light candles during a prayer meeting in Kolkata for victims of Sunday's bombings in Sri Lanka on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 24 April 2019

Sri Lankan envoy to Saudi Arabia vows to stand firm against terrorism

  • Sri Lankan community has never supported radical ideologies of any extremist group: Ambassador Thassim

RIYADH: Sri Lankans will continue to unite against terrorism, the country’s envoy to Saudi Arabia vowed during a national day of mourning for the victims of Sunday’s deadly bomb blasts. Speaking to Arab News as Sri Lanka held its first mass funeral following the Easter attacks on churches and hotels, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Azmi Thassim, said his country would stand firm against hate and that communities would unite and rebuild.
“I am confident that we will be able to congregate the communities. I am confident that as Sri Lankans, we will put our country and human values first and we will be together to work through it and we will become a more powerful country,” the envoy said.
As the death toll from the bombings continued to rise, a state of emergency was declared in a bid to prevent further attacks.
Thassim said that the Sri Lankan community has never supported the radical ideologies of any extremist group, and he commended Muslims, Christians and Buddhists in the country for their unity. Sri Lanka will this year commemorate 10 years of peace since the end of its civil war which spanned almost three decades.
“Hate speech in our country has been there for some time, from different communities. Our government is very strict and people that incited hate were taken into custody. Our government will continue to take serious action regarding hate speech,” he said.
The ambassador expressed his appreciation for all the messages of condolences that have come from citizens, expats and official representatives of Saudi Arabia.
“Our country has received messages from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the minister of foreign affairs, the secretary-general of the OIC, the secretary-general of the Muslim League and the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in condolences in support to our country, to our people and the families of the victims,” Thassim added.
There are approximately 175,000 Sri Lankan nationals living and working in Saudi Arabia. Thassim said the embassy was working closely with Sri Lankan authorities to ensure support for any national in Saudi Arabia who has been affected by the attacks.
“We’ve received calls from up to two dozen Sri Lankans who claimed their loved ones were hurt or killed. Our embassy has informed our authorities to send us confirmed information about such requests so that the embassy can responsibly inform the sponsors and our nationals.”

Peace is our priority but the world must take a stand against Iran, says Saudi cabinet

Updated 22 May 2019

Peace is our priority but the world must take a stand against Iran, says Saudi cabinet

  • Saudi cabinet says the international community must take firm action against the regime in Tehran
  • Saudi’s king invites GCC leaders to hold Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30

JEDDAH: The Saudi cabinet on Tuesday said that while the Kingdom believes all people in the region have a right to live in peace, including the Iranians, the international community must take firm action against the regime in Tehran to prevent it from spreading destruction and chaos.

After a meeting of the Council of Ministers at Assalam Palace, presided over by King Salman, Turki Al-Shabanah, the minister of media, told the Saudi Press Agency that the cabinet reviewed reports on regional and global development, and the king invited GCC leaders to hold Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30. The invitation reflects the Kingdom’s desire to work with other nations to boost security and stability in the region, the minister said, especially in light of the Iran’s continuing aggressive actions. The regime’s recent activities threaten regional and international peace and security, and the supply and stability of international oil markets, he added.

Al-Shabanah reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to peace and said it will make every effort to prevent war. The nation’s hand is always extended, he added, in the belief that everyone in the region, including the Iranians, has the right to live in a secure and stable environment.

However, the cabinet called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities by taking a firm stance against the actions of the regime in Tehran, to prevent its disruptive and destructive activities throughout the world. It also called on Iran to halt the reckless and irresponsible behavior of its agents, to save the region from the dangers they pose and potential repercussions.

The cabinet also expressed the Kingdom’s hopes and expectations that the 14th Ordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, will encourage unity of response to ongoing events in the Islamic world. The summit, chaired by King Salman, will be held in Makkah on May 31 under the title “Makkah Summit: Hand in Hand toward the Future.”

Ministers heard that the Kingdom has sent $250 million to the Central Bank of Sudan as part of a previously announced package of assistance in partnership with the United Arab Emirates. This latest demonstration of support from the Kingdom to the Sudanese people aims to help stabilize the country’s economy, and strengthen the Sudanese pound in particular, to help improve the lives of the nation’s people.

The cabinet also welcomed the decision of the 14th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to monitor an oil production reduction agreement concluded in Jeddah, which was headed by the Kingdom and Russia, and affirmed its commitment to balancing the oil market and stabilizing it on a sustainable basis.

Turning to local affairs, the Council of Ministers confirmed the generous support of SR 100 million ($26.7 million) from the king, and SR 30 million from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Jood Housing platform. Launched a day earlier, and supervised by the National Housing Development Association, it aims to accelerate the development process through the introduction of a new model of social solidarity, in which government, charities and commercial entities work together in accordance with regulations designed to provide support for those in need.

The council also discussed the results of the 26th meeting of the region’s governors, and praised the king for his directives designed to preserve security and help people throughout the Kingdom.