LONDON: Riyadh does not seek conflict with Tehran but will not let “Iran’s meddling in the region” go unchecked, said the Saudi ambassador to Britain.
“We do not seek conflict. We do not seek escalation. We have always been supporters of taking a firm stand against Iran. Our issue is not with the people of Iran, it is with the regime running the country,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan told the Daily Telegraph.
“But we do not believe in appeasement. At no point in history has appeasement proved to be a successful strategy. You cannot give in to a country like Iran because they will see it as a sign of weakness.”
France, Germany and the UK, three of the signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), triggered a “dispute resolution mechanism” recently in response to Iran ramping up its nuclear program in violation of the deal.
Prince Khalid criticized the JCPOA because it does not address “all the other things that Iran” is doing in the region.
“Iran’s meddling in the region is as challenging as the nuclear program. This is why we were concerned with the nuclear deal,” he said.
The ambassador also touched on recent allegations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in hacking the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
“It is very easy for people to throw these unsubstantiated allegations against Saudi Arabia because they know that it is very difficult for Riyadh to defend itself when it does not have proper access to the details,” Prince Khalid said.
“We need to see the evidence before we make any response, because the evidence made public so far is circumstantial at best.”
Saudis do not always represent themselves well because they are “a reticent people and our culture does not push us to talking about ourselves,” he said. “We need to do a better job on showing the world who we really are.”
The ambassador, who was appointed last year, encouraged people to visit his country before forming an opinion of it.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. We want people to come and see Saudi Arabia for themselves, and not rely on what they have read somewhere or heard somewhere to form their opinion of the country,” he said.
“There is plenty to see, and you will find a warm, generous and hospitable people there waiting to greet you.”