Saudi leadership discusses with Syria’s President Assad Palestinian issue, peace march, Arab reconciliations during Riyadh summit

King Abdullah’s talks with Assad dealt with means to solve Arab issues without foreign interference

Crown Prince Sultan receives U.S. National Security Advisor for talks on issues of joint interest

Saudi FM discusses with Chinese counterpart regional, int’l developments

Prince Saud: Iran interferes in Yemen, Israel always affirms that it does not want peace

French FM proposes meetings resumption instead of negotiations between Palestinians, Israel

After Netanyahu’s apology, Turkey urges Israel to reconsider its position, seek peace

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic held a meeting at the ranch of the Two Holy Mosques.

During the meeting, they discussed the overall situations at the Arab arena, particularly the developments of the Palestinian issue and the stalled peace process in the region as well as the efforts exerted to purify the atmosphere and unify Arab ranks in addition to strengthen the brethren relations and work to solve Arab issues without outside intervene.

The two leaders affirmed their support for the Yemeni people and their leadership and their keenness on its security, stability and territorial integrity.

They also discussed prospects for cooperation between the two countries and ways of enhancing them in all fields to serve the interests of the two countries and peoples, in addition to the overall developments at the international arena and the position of the two countries towards them.

The meeting was attended by Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General; Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, and Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

King Abdullah held a dinner party at his ranch in Al-Janadriyah this evening in honor of visiting President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The banquet was attended by Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General; Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs; other princes and senior government officials.

Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Republic Presidency Dr. Buthaina Shaaban has stressed that the meeting between the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad expresses the depth and development of relations between the two countries and serves the Arab interests and issues and the restoration of Arab rights.

In a statement, she added that the meeting tackled in-depth all Arab issues and developments at the regional scene, particularly the developments of the Palestinian issue, the stalled peace process and efforts exerted to purify the atmosphere, unify the Arab ranks and strengthen the ties of brotherhood as well as the work to solve Arab issues without outside intervention.

Syrian President Assad on Wednesday arrived in Riyadh for talks with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the satellite news channel al-Arabiya reported. The talks, the latest sign of the thaw in relations between the two countries, are likely to cover the civil war in Yemen and regional and international efforts to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Both countries have spoken of the need to reconcile Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, which controls Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank, and help form a Palestinian "national unity" government.

Without such an agreement, it is unclear who could credibly negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians in future peace talks.

Damascus hosts exiled political leaders from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Saudi Arabia, while maintaining cordial relations with Hamas' political leadership, is broadly seen as more sympathetic to Fatah.

Riyadh is also likely to seek Syrian support for its campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels along the ill-defined Saudi-Yemeni border, which has claimed at least 73 Saudi lives and an unknown number of Houthi and civilian casualties.

The Saudis have accused Syria's neighbor and close ally, Iran, of supporting the Houthis.

Wednesday's scheduled summit follows Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's visit to Damascus last week.

That visit was the latest sign of improved relations between the two countries.

Saudi-Syrian relations were strained by Saudi Arabia's support for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, and deteriorated further following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who had close financial and political ties to Saudi Arabia.

Detlev Mehlis, the German judge commissioned by the United Nations to investigate the bombing, implicated "senior Lebanese and Syrian officials" in that killing.

But relations between the Saudis and Syria have thawed in recent months, particularly following King Abdullah's landmark visit to Damascus in October.

Meanwhile, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General, received at his palace in Riyadh visiting U.S. President's Advisor for National Security General James Jones and accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, the U.S. official conveyed the greetings of President Barack Obama to the Crown Prince. For his part, Crown Prince Sultan sent his greetings to President Obama.

During the audience, cordial talks were reviewed and issues of concern to the two countries were discussed.

The event was attended by a number of senior protocol officials and U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom James Smith.

In Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal received Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. During the meeting they discussed issues of common interests.

The meeting was attended by a number of officials.

Prince Saud highlighted Saudi Arabia's vision on achieving international security and peace. That vision is emanating from our respect to the basis of international legitimacy.

However, this respect ought to come first from Israel, the main accountable side for the most prolonged dispute in our contemporary history and the defier of Security Council resolutions, namely 242 and 328, not only by dodging international commitments, but also by continuing swallowing more Palestinian territories, without any right, constructing more settlements and expanding existed ones, regardless of world community's resolution neither to recognize its legitimacy nor its legality, he said.

In a joint press conference held with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Prince Saud Al-Faisal pointed out that China's keenness, as a permanent member of the Security Council, in dealing with world disputes in accordance to international legitimacy, a stance conforming to Arab declared position to restore legitimate Arab and Palestinian rights, based on international legitimacy principles and its decisions, as stipulated in the Arab Initiative Peace, he added.

Prince Al-Faisal envisioned that Israel's evasion of legitimacy's principles and its continuous evasion of international laws, principles and norms, always constituted the main obstacle before reaching a just and last settlement of the dispute in the Middle East, he went on to say.

Prince Al-Faisal, who welcomed his Chinese counterpart and accompanying delegation, said that the visit is taking place in the context of developing strategic relations between the two friendly countries, and the keenness of their two leaderships to further develop and consolidate it, in all fields. Exchanged visits on leadership levels reflect the scope of co-ordination among their officials, the last amongst, was the convention of the Joint Saudi-Chinese Business Council in Riyadh, two days ago.

I would like to point out that co-operation relations between our two countries proceed in accordance to an institutional framework, through various accords and memos of understanding, covering political, economic, cultural, and sports fields, etc, he said.

He mentioned that the meeting comes within the framework of co-ordination and political consultation on regional and international issues of common interest, led by the Palestinian cause, plus Iran's nuclear file, and many other topics related to international security and peace in general, including reforms of the Security Council.

In this respect, he added 'I have told His Excellency of our support for the efforts of 5 + 1 group, of which China is a member, aiming at solving the crisis through dialogue and by peaceful means, and guarantee right of Iran and other states in the region to peaceful use of nuclear energy, according to the standards and procedures of International Atomic Energy Agency, he said. We hope that those efforts continue and gear forward to see Iran's response. Our two nations are keen that the Middle East and the Gulf should be free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, he added.

On the situation in Iraq, Prince Saud Al-Faisal expressed hope that the forthcoming elections, may achieve Iraqi people's aspirations towards a secure and stable Iraq, to keep its national unity and territorial integrity, and to achieve its development and prosperity.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that fighting terrorism has been discussed in the framework of the two countries denouncing of the phenomenon, in all forms, meanwhile he stressed the importance of intensifying world efforts to fight it and exchange of information, plus avoiding attaching terrorism to neither race, religion, or color.

We have reviewed the situation in Yemen too, and our keenness that Yemeni endeavor would succeed to achieve security and stability, and to keep its unity and territorial integrity, and keep it away of any violation to its sovereignty committed by any external party.

For his part, the Chinese Minister said the visit coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China, noting that, during the meeting, he exchanged talks with Prince Saud Al-Faisal on fruitful crucial issues for the two countries covering the economic, youths and social and other fields.

He said he agreed with his Saudi counterpart to exert more effort to enhance relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Peoples Republic of China, noting that cooperation between the two countries is a comprehensive one at all levels and that China is keen to always boost its ties with the Kingdom.

He said China calls for serious negotiations between Palestine and Israel to carry out the peace process and establish the State of Palestine. He added that China is ready for cooperation with the world community to work for the stability of the situation in the Middle East.

On Iraq, he said China has extended assistance to Iraq through reducing its debts and forging agreements between Chinese and Iraqi companies for investment in Iraq with the aim of supporting the Iraqi economy.

The Chinese Foreign Minister said the Iranian nuclear file should be solved through political diplomatic channels which helps stabilize the situation in the region.

He declared that he invited Prince Saud Al-Faisal for an official visit to China and attend the Chinese Arab Meeting to be hosted by China this year.

Answering a question on the latest contacts made by the Kingdom with the Arab States, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that the fact is that contacts with our Arab brothers are regular.

We are in constant contacts with them and there is exchange of visits among us and there is nothing unusual in our contacts. with our brothers.

He added that the relationship with the Republic of China is a strategic one and the presence of a high-level official China pleases us and gives me the opportunity to address important issues.

On the situation in the Middle East, Prince Saud Al-Faisal stressed that it is tragic, noting that the most prolonged conflict in the current era is going on in our region since almost a hundred years have passed with the disputes taking place, a matter of no pride to us, stressing that the real reason for the continuation of this conflict is Israel's rejection of all attempts which were made to resolve it.

The Saudi Foreign Minister made clear that the Arab countries in particular have done their duty by presenting the Arab peace project, which gives Israel the security it seeks as it says and gives the Arab states their rights to restore the usurped territories, pointing out that peace wouldn't be achieved by one party. If one party does not want peace, then peace won't be achieved.

Prince Saud Al-Faisal also said:’ In every attempt to support peace, Israel confirms that it doesn't want peace, and really this is regrettable matter'.

For his part, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that the Islamic world played a significant role in the world due to its big number of population, pointing out that Muslim countries enjoy a special interest in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and that there is understanding and support among the Islamic countries and China, and there is significant progress in relations in all fields between the two parties.

On the visit of President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Kingdom and if there would be a tri-summit between the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques; President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak Arab Republic of Egypt and the Syrian President, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said the visit is in response to the visit paid by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to Syria, adding that it is certain that the Arab reconciliation will be discussed during this visit, and the timing of holding such meetings is up to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the President of Syria.

Responding to a question on the strong relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China, the Saudi minister made clear that 'The Saudi-Chinese relations are in its early days.

However, I expect a huge boom in the future', attributing the reason for the strength of the relationship to the political will of the leadership in both countries as well as to both peoples' will for cooperation and closer cooperation at the popular level and not only at the governmental level.

On the claim of Iranian leadership that the Kingdom wages war against the Houthis at the southern border of Yemen, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said that 'The Houthies themselves don't dare to make such a claim. The real accusation is that Iran interferes in the internal affairs of Yemen. So, the Iranian claim could not hide the fact'.

On the other hand, Israel has apologised to Turkey for publicly humiliating its ambassador during his meeting with a senior Israeli government minister.

Last week Israel took offence at a Turkish television drama that portrayed Israeli soldiers as baby killers.

But it was the response of Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, which turned the spat into an international incident that threatens to destroy Israeli-Turkish relations altogether.

When he called in Turkish ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol to protest, the minister had him seated on a couch noticeably lower than his own chair and invited Israeli television cameras to film the confrontation.

As the ambassador took his seat, one TV channel asked the minister to shake his hand for the cameras, but he refused.

"Of course not, that's the whole point," the minister said.

Mr Ayalon then gave instructions to the cameramen.

"The important thing is that it is seen that he is sitting lower and we are higher and that there is only one flag and that you see that we are not smiling," he said.

The Turkish ambassador - who does not speak Hebrew - was apparently oblivious to the exchange and was still smiling as the minister began the meeting in English.

Only afterwards, when Israeli television made everything clear, did Turkey realise the public humiliation Mr Celikkol was put through.

The government in Ankara was so enraged; it threatened to withdraw the ambassador unless there was a swift apology.

The deputy foreign minister initially refused but then caved in. "My protest against the attacks on Israel in Turkey remains valid," he said.

"Nevertheless, it is not my way to disrespect the ambassador's honour and in the future I will clarify my position in a diplomatically acceptable manner."

Mr Ayalon is hardly new to diplomacy, as a former Israeli ambassador to Washington.

But his treatment of Mr Celikkol displays the depth of anger many Israelis hold towards a country they feel has demonised them since last year's war in Gaza.

Those on the right, including the deputy foreign minister, believe Israel has every right to protest, even at the risk of upsetting a near neighbour.

While others would argue that Turkey, as Israel's longest and strongest Muslim ally, is a friend it can ill afford to lose.