Germany backs Saudi conditions for hosting Afghan talks
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday held talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Al-Yamamah Palace here on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern.
Steinmeier, who arrived in the Saudi capital yesterday evening from Pakistan, earlier held talks with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on a wide range of issues, including the global financial crisis and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.
Addressing a joint news conference after the talks, Prince Saud confirmed that King Abdullah would attend a meeting of world leaders in Washington next month to discuss a response to the global financial crisis.
“King Abdullah has answered favorably to an invitation sent to him to examine the financial crisis and ways to reinstate confidence in the global economy,” Saud told reporters. US President George Bush will host the meeting in Washington on Nov. 15.
Prince Saud said King Abdullah and the German minister discussed the global economic crisis. The king reiterated his confidence in the strength of the Saudi economy and other GCC economies, adding that they are capable of withstanding the effect of global crisis.
Prince Saud called on the warring factions of Afghanistan to step up efforts for reconciliation. “We are awaiting an official response from the Afghan side for the start of serious talks,” he added.
He said the Afghan factions taking part in the reconciliation talks should come with open minds with the intent of reaching an agreement and not to create problems. They should renounce terrorism and cooperation with terrorists, he added.
Steinmeier supported the conditions set by Saudi Arabia for Afghan reconciliation talks. He also pledged support to Pakistan and Afghanistan to ensure the region becomes free from terrorism, insecurity and militancy.
Prince Saud appreciated the role of the Pakistani and Afghan tribal leaders, who are holding talks aimed at halting fighting along the Pakistani border, something that has strained relations between the two countries.
Saud said cooperation of Afghanistan and Pakistan was key to resolving the conflict. “Saudi Arabia is always willing to help its allies,” he said. “But, there must be a willingness to hold dialogue, to sort out differences and a resolve to work together.”
Steinmeier, who will travel to the United Arab Emirates later this week, said he wanted to use his trip to prepare a meeting of the “Friends of Pakistan” group in Abu Dhabi next month.
Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia would attend the Abu Dhabi talks.