JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday laid out his vision for the Kingdom’s foreign policy, with the US as a strategic partner and working with allies to find solutions to Iran’s “negative behavior.”
In a 90-minute TV interview to mark the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030, the ambitious social and economic blueprint for diversification from dependence on oil, the crown prince devoted a large part of his remarks to the Kingdom’s place in the world.
He said the Saudi government agreed with the Biden administration in the US on most issues, and they were working together to find common ground on their disagreements.
“Like every family, brothers do not agree 100 percent on all issues and matters. This is similar when it comes to governments,” the crown prince said.
As US administrations changed, “the margin of difference may increase or decrease but we are in agreement throughout 90 percent of the policy of President Biden and we hope to enhance it one way or another.
“And for the things we have some differences with them, about 10 percent, we try to neutralize the risk and reach an understanding about them. They are our partners for more than 80 years.”
The crown prince said Iran was a neighbor and “we hope to have a good relationship, we want it to grow and prosper. Our issue is with the negative influences such as their nuclear program, their support for their regional proxies and their ballistic missiles program. We’re working with our partners to find solutions to these issues.”
As the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen continues its fight to restore the country’s legitimate government, the Iran-backed Houthi militia have rejected a Saudi peace plan, and continue to bombard civilian and energy infrastructure targets in the Kingdom with armed drones and ballistic missiles.
“No country in the world accepts militias on its borders,” the crown prince said. “We hope that the Houthis will sit at the negotiating table to reach solutions that guarantee rights for all.
“While there is no doubt that the Houthis have a close relationship with the Iranian regime, there is no doubt that the Houthis are Arabs at the end of the day, and it is inevitable that they will have to work with their brothers to end this conflict.”
The crown prince said the Kingdom itself had been a victim of extremism. “Saudi Arabia has been a main target for extremist projects and terrorist acts in the world,” he said. “Every extremist, when they are thinking of where to start to target, they think of Saudi Arabia.”
There was no place for extremism in the Kingdom because it was incompatible with economic growth, attracting tourists and creating jobs, he said.
When asked to define his main foreign policy doctrine, the crown prince replied simply: “Our foreign policy interest is that of Saudi Arabia’s interests.”