Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and the Commander of
the National Guard, has stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has
so far accepted all peace initiatives in the Middle East region,
regardless of their source, and that the Kingdom has its own peace
plan which was announced by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King
Fahd bin Abdul Aziz and was then named after him [the Fahd Plan].
In an interview with “The Financial Times”, he said that the
Kingdom has great credibility with all parties in Arab and Islamic
countries and may therefore be qualified to convince all parties to
sit at peace negotiating table, but it can not fulfill this role or
offer this crucial service as long as Israel continues to abort all
The Kingdom is concerned about the deteriorating situation in the
Palestinian territories and instability in the region as a whole,
Crown Prince Abdullah said. “It is in the interest of the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia to be in a region in which peace, security and justice
prevail where all the people have equal rights.”
He added that as long as Israel thinks of itself as a super-power
dominating the region and imposing its will on others, stability will
not be achieved in the region. He noted that as for al Quds
[Jerusalem], it is part of Muslim's conscience which no true Muslim
In reply to another question on deteriorating situation and actions
of (Israeli Premier) Ariel Sharon since he assumed power in Israel
last March, Crown Prince Abdullah remarked that it is a great mistake
to leave a dangerous international issue (such as Palestinian issue)
to the mercy of local elections.
He added, “We do not care who rules Israel but we do care that
Israel respects its obligations and agreements".
On U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's approval of the report of
Mitchell's committee and appointment of new American envoy to the
region, he said it is a good and positive step. He indicated that
Powell had fought for security of the region during Kuwait's
liberation and he knew very well the effect of Israeli violence on
such security and the stability of the region.
When asked whether he had requested the U.S. administration to
mount pressure on Israel, Crown Prince Abdullah said, “We believe in
what the United States of America says when it calls for human rights,
peoples' rights and international law. [We believe it when is says] it
is eager for new world order”. He added that we look forward to
America fulfilling an effective and just role.
When asked about relations between Saudi Arabia and the United
States, following his decision not to visit the United States, he
replied, “Our relations with the United States are old and strong
and are based on joint major interests. Thus it is not easy to harm
them. A visit, not made today, can be made tomorrow. What is important
is not the date but the climate in which the visit is made and the
opportunity to achieve success”.
On the possibility of using Saudi oil as a means of exerting
pressure in the peace issue, as happened in the seventies, Crown
Prince Abdullah explained that oil is an economic and strategic
material on which depends the welfare of industrial and developing
He said that we are keen that our oil policy be logical, striking a
balance between the interests of producers and consumers. He added
that he does not see that it is in the interest to speak on oil out of
On the European role in peace process, he said Europe has moral and
political responsibility towards the region and he noted cultural,
economic and historical links between Europe and the region.
On relations with Iran and American press reports alleging Iran has
been involved in Dhahran's bombing, Crown Prince Abdullah said we do
not formulate our policy on press reports. “Our policy is based on
protecting our basic interests in the service of our people and peace
issue”. He added: “We see that it is in the interest of stability
and development in the region that there should be rapprochement with
Responding to another question on the security agreement between
the Kingdom and Iran, he said it was concluded according to the desire
of the two countries to fight terrorism, drug smuggling,
money-laundering and other violations that harm the interests of the
two peoples. He indicated that the agreement is not in any way
directed at damaging the interests of any country.
On lifting American boycott on Iran, he said that it is up to the
two countries but we see that greater stability in the region could
ensue from American-Iranian dialogue.
Responding to a question on smart sanctions against Iraq which the
U.S. administration is trying to develop, Crown Prince Abdullah said:
“We announced three years ago a Saudi initiative aiming at
eliminating the sufferings of Iraqi people. Responsibility now rests
on Iraqi leadership that obstructs every movement to remove the
sufferings.” He noted that sanctions do not target the Iraqi people
but they are a means to an end - that is protection of the region from
new adventures of the Iraqi regime.
On the American role in convincing Israel to stop its expansionist
and oppressive policies and go along the will of world community and
resolutions under international law, he said: “Any success of the
United States in convincing the Israeli side would serve the interests
of world peace and the interests of the United States”. He observed
that, if action is taken, it will reflect positively on the overall
situation in the region.
Responding to a question on whether Arab governments should
continue their efforts for reconciliation between Iraq and Kuwait, he
said the problem is not just between Iraq and Kuwait, but it is
between Iraq on one hand and its neighbors, the Arab world at large
and international law on the other.
In response to a question on the U.S. administration's policy on
oil, he said that the administration has suggested a group of oil
policies and one of them emphasizes the importance of dialogue between
producers and consumers. Such an approach is what the Kingdom has
always called for.
As for pressures on OPEC, he expressed his belief that all peoples
know now that OPEC alone is not responsible for market stability. The
role of producers outside OPEC and the governments of consuming
countries have no less important roles than OPEC.
On OPEC's increase of production in the next meeting on 4th July,
he said that OPEC will increase its production if it feels that there
is real need for that increase to maintain stability in the market.
On his proposal to set up Secretariat General for International
Energy Forum in the Kingdom, he explained that it is important to
coordinate matters among all parties to maintain equilibrium if the
interests of producers and consumers are to be protected. He added
that the forum will ensure price stability and maintain balance
between supply and demand.
On domestic reforms in the Kingdom, he said that economic reforms
are running according to the planned program and at the appropriate
On the Kingdom's decision to prohibit foreign companies from entry
in oil production, he said: “Aramco is one of the largest companies
in the world and has technical ability to produce and market oil. We
do not see the necessity for competition from other companies in this
field”. Crown Prince Abdullah added that the Kingdom's oil producing
capacity exceeds 10 million barrels per day and it can increase that
if deemed necessary. As for refining and petrochemical industries and
secondary industries that depend on gas or oil, they are all open for
foreign investment, he declared.
On announcing the successful bidders in development of gas, Crown
Prince Abdullah said that large companies were called to invest in the
sector of natural gas production and development and provide the gas
to the industries of electricity, water desalination and
petrochemicals. He estimated the volume of investments in the three
gas projects to stand at more than U.S. dollars 20 billion in the next
few years and that amount will be increased to more than double in the
following years. Such investment will result in job opportunities for
thousands of citizens. It will also increase the growth rate of the
Saudi economy, he said.
In reply to a question that foreign companies investing in gas will
also be concerned with electricity and that the Saudi government
supports electricity prices, he said that Saudi Government has worked
to restructure the electricity sector, issuing new charges in which
the subsidy of the Government decreased greatly. He noted that any
project for generating electricity will be preceded by comprehensive
negotiation between the government and the company concerned.
On unemployment in the Kingdom, he said, “In the past citizens
depended almost completely on the state to provide job opportunities,
but today, after the inflation of the governmental system, the natural
field for job seekers is the private sector”. He indicated that the
state gives priority to unemployment and deals with it by enabling the
private sector to provide new job opportunities and by finding new
fields of investments for national and international capital.
In response to a question on how to attract Saudi capital from
outside, Prince Abdullah said the Saudi Government was embarked on
several reforms to convince Saudi capitalists that investment in their
country would be more safe and profitable for them than outside.
“However, we cannot prevent any Saudi from managing his money the
way he likes”, he told The Financial Times.
Asked whether the Saudi government was planning to allow the Shoura
Council to discuss state budgets, Crown Prince Abdullah said the
Shoura Council was discussing the five-year plans on which the budgets
are based. The recent increase in number of the Shoura Council's
members was new evidence that it has been granted more responsibility
and authority, he added.
On the legitimacy of the government-picked Shoura Council members,
he said “The question is irrelevant in our society. The Government
chooses the Shoura members solely on the basis of their qualifications
and their contributions in public life.”.
He cast light on the main features of the Saudi economy, citing
openness of the economy since the early days of King Abdul Aziz. On
the main changes seen by the Saudi economy, he cited recruitment of
Saudi youth, introduction of new industries and technologies,
upgrading the performance of some industries and services in the
public and private sectors and modernization of society, to meet the
challenges of the information era and advanced technology without
contradiction with the Islamic Shariah and values.
On the project of strategic perspective of the Saudi economy, he
said it is based on exploitation of the potential of our young people,
diversification of income resources, development of a positive
investment climate, development of Saudi expertise in various economic
fields and dealing effectively with globalization and its
In reply to a question on local, regional and international changes
in the area, he said: “There is special relationship linking the
people of the Kingdom with their leadership”. He noted that the
Saudi state had struggled for three centuries to lay the foundation
for an unprecedented degree of unity in the Arab world.