JEDDAH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman impressed on US President Joe Biden the need for mutual respect and appreciation of each other’s core values, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.
The minister was responding to a question from Arab News at a press conference in Jeddah about the conversation between Biden and the crown prince.
Biden described the killing of Saudi journalist and author Jamal Khashoggi as disgusting.
According to the Saudi foreign minister, the crown prince responded to Biden’s remarks on the Khashoggi affair quite clearly, saying that “this crime, while unfortunate and abhorrent, is something that the Kingdom took very seriously, and acted on in a way commensurate with its position as a responsible country.”
Prince Farhan said the crown prince told Biden that “these mistakes happen in any country, including the US.”
According to Prince Farhan, the crown prince pointed out that the US had made its own mistakes “and took the necessary action to hold those responsible accountable and address the mistakes. The Kingdom behaved as a responsible country and took the necessary action.”
The crown prince referred to American excesses and human rights violations in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the 2021 drone strike in Afghanistan that wiped out a whole family.
He said that the US has shown historically what it holds itself accountable for, and the Kingdom has done exactly the same.
Elaborating on what exactly transpired between the crown prince and Biden, Prince Farhan said that there was also a discussion about values.
The crown prince pointed out to Biden that respect for human rights is “a core value for the Kingdom based on our Islamic beliefs and our Arab heritage.”
Prince Farhan said that the crown prince told the US leader that “it is absolutely important that values be spread through dialogue. Trying to impose your values on others is not going to be effective. It will get you a negative reaction. The right way to try to put your values forward is to show the world that you adhere to those values first.
“And then if your values are valid and acceptable to the world, they will be adopted. You cannot impose your values by force, and you have to understand — the crown prince was quite clear with President Biden — that in the end we have our own values. Those values are not going to align 100 percent with the US values ever because we are very, very proud of our own traditions, our own values, our own faith. Every country wants to protect its own systems, its own values.”
Prince Farhan quoted the crown prince as saying that “we are tremendously proud of our country and our values. And if the US is going to want to deal with only countries that are exactly like it, the list of countries is going to be very, very short.”
According to the foreign minister, Biden was told that the challenges facing the international community demand cooperation. “And the only way we’re going to work together is if we respect each other, and that includes countries respecting each other’s values and sovereignty.”
During his briefing, the foreign minister also said talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been positive, but they did not reach results, confirming that Saudi Arabia’s “hand is extended” to Iran to achieve normal relations.
Prince Faisal said that the Kingdom was working seriously to reach a comprehensive cease-fire in Yemen, and the Houthis must understand that Yemen’s interests lie in peace and stability.
He added that Iranian weapons were part of the reason for the continuing conflict in Yemen, pointing out that dialogue and diplomacy were the only solutions to Iran’s nuclear program.
The minister said that no military or technical cooperation with Israel was proposed or discussed, adding that there was no such thing as an “Arab NATO.”
Prince Faisal reiterated that there was no discussion of a “defensive alliance” with Israel.
He touched on the decision to open Saudi airspace for civil aviation, stressing that this did not indicate any prelude to a subsequent decision.
He said that the Jeddah summit focused on partnership with the US, as it remained the Kingdom’s main strategic partner, stressing that the partnership was old and ongoing and the agreements signed did not happen overnight.
Prince Faisal said that the summit did not discuss the issue of oil production, adding that OPEC + continues its work to assess the markets and what they need.
He reiterated the earlier statement from the Saudi crown prince said that the Kingdom’s maximum production capacity stood at 13 million barrels.
Regarding the global food crisis as a result of the war in Ukraine, the Saudi foreign minister said that work was underway to increase coordination between Arab countries to ensure food security.
At the opening of the summit on Saturday afternoon, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the Jeddah summit was being held at a time when the world was witnessing great challenges, stressing that the global economy was linked to the stability of energy prices.
The US president left Jeddah after a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia.