Remarks of

HRH Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

To the United Kingdom and Ireland

During the opening of the
Third Session of the Two Kingdoms Forum
London, Monday, 29/10/2007


Dr Kim Howells, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good morning. I am indeed delighted to participate in the opening of the third session of the Two Kingdoms Forum, and to address you on behalf of His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al-Faisal, The Saudi Foreign Minister.


This session is of special significance, coinciding, as it does, with the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah ibn AbdulAziz to the United Kingdom, for it adds a further dimension to this conference.


The royal visit gives momentum to strengthening our bilateral cooperation in all areas, and furthering our continuous consultations at the highest level.


In spite of the diversity of culture, ethnic origins, and religious belief, there are certain historical, geographical, and economic factors, which place The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The United Kingdom, in a unique position that leads to a strong partnership which can be a constructive force for peace, stability, and prosperity; not only for the two Kingdoms, but also for the Middle East, Europe, and even the World at large.


We are called upon to utilize this unique position in a concerted fashion to play a more active and effective role in the international arena.


Assessing our progress since our first Session; we have achieved important strides in the economic and cultural fields, and made serious advancement in combating terrorism.


We did not, however, attain any progress in our efforts to bring the prerequisite peace, stability, and security to the explosive region of the Middle East.


On the economic side, Saudi Arabia is still the largest trading partner of the United Kingdom in the Middle East. 

Volume of trade between our two countries increased from (12) billion Riyals in 2003 to (18) billion Riyals in 2005.


Although this economic cooperation is significant, it is far short of the potentials.

Hopefully, the present Royal Visit and the result of this Session, will give impetus and momentum for further expansion in this area. 


The intent of the private sector in our two countries to establish a joint investment holding company, specialized in promoting technological transfer and cooperation, is one of the important results of the last two sessions of this Forum.


Culturally, various exhibits between our two countries are actively going on, and the number of students from Saudi Arabia seeking higher education in the United Kingdom is increasing annually.


Out of twenty thousand Saudi students studying abroad, five thousand are pursuing this in the United Kingdom.


In the area of human contact, it is significant that the theme of this session is focusing on how each community perceives the other, and how to promote positive views and mutual respect, especially since the dialogue will be initiated by the Youth Forum composed of young participants from both countries.


Our young people need to discover - in learning about one another - the shared common values and common ambitions: to live in a peaceful and secure world, and lead fruitful and productive lives.


Saudi Arabia is a young country. Some 38.2 per cent of our population is under the age of 14.


Our Children, like your children are our future. We pray that the world they grow up in will be more humane and peaceful than the world we live in today.


Human resources development and economic prosperity is the key to a better future for the Middle East.


The European Union and the Arab world - and our two kingdoms in particular - can achieve great gains through reinforcing these goals.


Every effort in this endeavor will help in achieving peace and stability in our troubled part of the world.


However, there are three interrelated crises causing the volatility of our region and adversely effecting this economic development: Iraq, the threat of nuclear proliferation, and the chronic Arab-Israeli conflict.


It is not farfetched to attribute to the Arab-Israeli conflict a major part of the woes and problems that face our world today, including but not limited to, the spread of extremism and terrorism.


Our friend and former Foreign Minister; the Honorable Jack Straw said in the first session of this Dialogue, in 2005 that:


and I quote


Quite apart from the human tragedy of this conflict, stagnation in the Middle East peace process has weakened people's faith in politics and in the power of solutions achieved by dialogue. In that way, the conflict is too often acted as a source of radicalization and as a block on positive change in the Middle East as a whole”.


End of quote.


The present situation in the region attests to the accuracy of that statement.


We are now at a critical crossroad. The Arab Peace Initiative in this regard represents a unique and historical opportunity to re-invigorate the peace process, for it provides a general framework, based on international legitimacy, that enables all parties to negotiate fruitfully.


All Arab countries have committed themselves to achieve peace, security, recognition and normal relations among all the countries of the region, consequent to Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories of 1967.


The Arab countries welcomed publicly the important positive points that were included in President Bush invitation to convene an international peace conference, especially the call for negotiated solutions to the issues of Jerusalem, borders and refugees, so an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state can be created to live in peace and security side by side with Israel.


Needless to say, the success of the proposed conference is dependent on tackling these issues with clarity and directness, within a comprehensive framework that includes all tracks in a specific and reasonable time frame.


Imposing greater obligations and conditions on the occupied Palestinians, while the occupier is given greater latitude  to defy international law, is clearly not logical and does not build confidence in the seriousness, fairness and credibility of the current peace process.


The daily suffering and humiliation of Palestinians, and continuing the building of settlements and the wall to unilaterally create new facts on the ground, make it extremely difficult to enable any Palestinian Government to function effectively, or to convince Palestinians of the feasibility of peace.


Collective punishment measures as means to force submissiveness would only galvanize and add resolve to the will of the people. This great city of London is a living testimony to that.


When King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, first proposed the Arab Peace Initiative, in the Beirut Arab Summit of 2002, he directly addressed the Israeli People as follows:


“The use of violence, for more than fifty years, has only resulted in more violence and destruction, and that the Israeli people are as far as they have ever been from security and peace, not withstanding military superiority and despite efforts to subdue and oppress.


Peace emanates from the heart and mind, and not from the barrel of a cannon, or the exploding warhead of a missile.


The time has come for Israel to put its trust in peace after it has gambled on war for decades without success.


Israel, and the world, must understand that peace and the retention of the occupied Arab territories are incompatible and impossible to reconcile or achieve”.


Dr. Howells,


Ladies and gentlemen,


We can not pretend that these difficult issues will be resolved by merely talking about them.


However, it is highly important that we have common views regarding these realistic and logical solutions in order to develop the needed mechanisms that can convince others, in the international community, of adopting and implementing them. 


I thank you for your patience and wish you success in the coming meetings of this Forum.