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

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."



Pompeo calls for Greece-Turkey dialogue to ease tensions

Updated 19 sec ago

Pompeo calls for Greece-Turkey dialogue to ease tensions

  • Pompeo is on a two-day visit to Greece – his second in a year – aimed at easing tensions between Greece and Turkey

SOÚDA, Greece: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said his country strongly backed talks between Greece and Turkey to de-escalate tensions over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
He also called for an end to fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh and a return to negotiations “as quickly as possible.”
Pompeo is on a two-day visit to Greece – his second in a year – aimed at easing tensions between Greece and Turkey.
The two countries have spent weeks at loggerheads after Ankara sent exploration vessels into disputed, potentially resource-rich waters in a crisis that roped in other European powers and raised concern about a wider escalation.
“We strongly support dialogue between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and encourage them to resume discussion of these issues as soon as possible,” he said after visiting the NATO base of Souda Bay on Crete with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
On Wednesday, Pompeo will fly to Rome for meetings with Italian government and Vatican officials. He will subsequently visit Croatia on Friday.
Pompeo and Mitsotakis had earlier spoken to Souda base commanders and boarded a US special forces CCM speedboat and a Greek frigate, prior to a sit-down meeting.
Washington has urged the NATO allies and neighbors, who have agreed to continue exploratory talks interrupted in 2016, to find “good solutions” to regional disputes exacerbated by energy exploration disagreements.
“We hope the exploratory talks not only get kicked off right, but it’s important that they’re resolved in a way that delivers outcomes that each of the two nations find more than acceptable,” Pompeo told Greek state agency ANA on Monday.
“It’s not just talking, we need to get to good solutions,” he added.
In a joint statement on Monday after talks in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, Pompeo and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias said rival claims to territory in the Mediterranean should be resolved “peacefully in accordance with international law.”
The 44-hectare Naval Support Activity base at Souda is the foremost US naval facility in the eastern Mediterranean.
Mitsotakis — who is hosting Pompeo at his family home in Crete — wants closer military ties with the United States.
Pompeo last October signed a defense agreement with Greek authorities allowing US forces a broader use of Greek military facilities.
Greece intends to further upgrade the naval facilities at Souda for its own navy operations, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told parliament on Monday.
“Our country wants to make its presence felt in the eastern Mediterranean, and this will be done through the upgrade of Souda,” Panagiotopoulos said, according to ANA.
On Tuesday, Pompeo also called for an end to fighting between separatists in the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorny Karabakh and Azerbaijani forces.
“Both sides must stop the violence and work with the Minsk group ... to return to substantive negotiations as quickly as possible,” Pompeo said, referring to the so-called Minsk Group of mediators that includes France, Russia and the United States.
At least 95 people have been killed in the clashes that have been raging since the weekend, including 11 civilians, according to the latest available tallies.