Khalid bin Salman: Saudi Arabia will do everything in its power to spare Iraq from conflict

Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman arrives for a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Department of State in Washington on Monday. (AP)
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Updated 09 January 2020

Khalid bin Salman: Saudi Arabia will do everything in its power to spare Iraq from conflict

  • Prince Khalid this week met Donald Trump and other senior US officials to discuss Middle East stability
  • Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said Iraq could not become a battleground

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and its leadership will always stand with Iraq and its people, Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman said Wednesday.

The prince said the Kingdom would "do everything in its power to spare Iraq from the danger of war and conflict between external parties, and for its people to live in prosperity after what they have endured in the past."

Prince Khalid this week met Donald Trump and other senior US officials in Washington to discuss Middle East stability amid the threat of an escalating conflict between America and Iran. On Tuesday, he met in London with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Writing on Twitter Wednesday, he spoke warmly of the Kingdom's brotherly ties with Iraq.

"Every one who loves Iraq today wants to avoid disturbances and everything that negatively affects its security and stability," he wrote. He said there was a need to mobilize Iraqi people and enhance the country's role in the Arab world. 

Saudi Arabia has called for restraint after the US killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. Iran responded early Wednesday by firing 22 missiles at Iraqi military bases housing US troops.

Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan also offered his support for the Iraqi people. He said it was of utmost importance for Iraq's leadership to join forces to avoid a war and not become a battleground. 

"The Kingdom will always stand as it does with all its efforts to achieve security and stability for Iraq and enable it to achieve the aspirations of its dear people," he said.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would stand by Iraq to "overcome everything that threatens its security, stability and its connection to the Arab world."

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 27 min 26 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.