Hollande: Assad must go

Updated 31 December 2013

Hollande: Assad must go

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and visiting French President Francois Hollande discussed at length key regional issues, including Syria, Iran and Lebanon, at Khuraim Gardens on Sunday.
Hollande, who held a separate meeting with Crown Prince Salman, also met with former Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri and Syrian opposition leader, Ahmed Jarba, in Riyadh.
Renewing his call for an immediate solution to the Syrian crisis, Hollande said there could not be a solution with Assad staying in power. “The participation of the opposition in the proposed peace conference in Switzerland on Jan. 22 is desirable.”
Addressing a press conference at the French Embassy, Hollande said the talks also covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the volatile situation in Egypt and the growing commercial ties between Riyadh and Paris.
Hollande commended the king “for his endeavors and for his untiring efforts to solve the problems facing friendly nations and allies in the Middle East, including Syria.
“We are engaged with Saudi Arabia in several sectors ranging from politics, regional issues and international affairs, to energy and transport.”
He pointed out that an agreement to forge closer cooperation in the health sector, mainly in medical research and pharmaceuticals, was signed Sunday.
Hollande said: “France and Saudi Arabia share a pledge to work for peace, security and stability in the Middle East.” This pledge is evident from Hollande’s meeting with Hariri, a staunch critic of the Syrian regime.
The meeting is important, as it comes amid heightened tensions in Lebanon following the killing of Hariri’s close aide, ex-minister Mohammad Chatah, on Friday.
“France and Saudi Arabia will extend support to Lebanon,” he added. He said Paris shouldered its way into negotiations with Iran, demanding a better deal and warning that the Tehran government needed “careful monitoring.”
About Egypt, he said: “The transition of power will take place through elections.”
Hollande said Saudi Arabia has become France’s “top partner in the Middle East” with trade exchange exceeding $11 billion in 2013. He noted “good results” in commercial relations, citing contracts won by French companies, including Alstom winning the Riyadh metro contract.
A team of four ministers accompanying Hollande, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, also attended the meeting.


Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.