Saudi Arabia remains opposed to Iran developing nuclear weapons, King Salman told world leaders on Wednesday. But he said he hopes initial talks between the Kingdom and Iranian authorities can lead to confidence-building measures.
“The Kingdom stresses the importance of making the Middle East a region free of all weapons of mass destruction,” the king said in a prerecorded speech on the second day of the high-level Annual General Debate at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. “We therefore support international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“Iran is a neighboring state. We hope that our initial talks with Iran will lead to concrete confidence-building measures, measures that will achieve the aspirations of our two peoples for collaborative relations.”
However, he added that the Kingdom is very concerned by “Iranian steps that go counter to its commitments as well as to daily declarations from Iran that its nuclear program is peaceful.”
King Salman said Saudi Arabia continues to confront extremist ideas based on hatred and exclusion, and the activities of terrorist groups and sectarian militias that destroy lives and nations.
The Kingdom stresses the need to robustly “confront all those who support, sponsor, finance or shelter terrorist groups and sectarian militias or use them to spread chaos, destruction and hegemony,” he added.
The king condemned the Houthi militias in Yemen for their military activity in the country and their frequent attacks on Saudi Arabia, and made it clear he will not tolerate any such threats to the Kingdom or its people.
“The peace initiative in Yemen tabled by the Kingdom last March ought to end the bloodshed and conflict,” he said. “It ought to put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people but, unfortunately, the terrorist Houthi militia reject peaceful solutions. They have placed their bets on a military option to take over more territory in Yemen.
“The Kingdom maintains its legitimate right to defend itself in confronting the missile attacks, ballistic-missile attacks, and use of booby-trapped boats against our Kingdom.”
In common with the speeches by many world leaders during the debate, King Salman also reaffirmed his commitment to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The challenges confronting the international community today require strengthening multilateral international cooperation,” he said. “The COVID pandemic has shown that the road to sustainable recovery goes through collaboration between all of us in a collective framework.
“The Kingdom has had a vital role in leading the world’s response to the pandemic through its presidency of the G20 last year, and the Kingdom has supported international efforts to confront the pandemic with the sum of $500 million, in addition to $300 million used to assist states in confronting the pandemic.”
He added: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to be committed to its developmental and humanitarian role in assisting the most needy states to confront natural catastrophes and humanitarian crises.”
King Salman also stressed that the global recovery from the pandemic must be carried out in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner.
“The Kingdom realizes the importance of concerted, joint efforts to confront climate change and its repercussions,” he said.
He highlighted a number of Saudi-led projects, including the Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives, through which the Kingdom is already putting its money where its mouth is in terms of fighting climate change.
The king, who has ruled Saudi Arabia since 2015, also reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are in line with the Kingdom’s own Saudi Vision 2030 development plan.
“We want our economy to be a pioneering one,” he said. “We want our society to interact with all of the world.”
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