Prince Turki al-Faisal highlights Saudi Arabia’s most important principle of avoiding interference in others’ internal affairs

Obama’s counterterrorism aide says many lives would have been in danger but for Saudi Arabia

Madinah announced as capital of Islamic culture 2013

Bahrain protests Iranian official’s remarks

Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, received Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu and the accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, which was attended by a number of officials, they discussed issues of common interest.

Prince Saud also received Indian Ambassador Ahmad Talmiz on the end of his tour of duty as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

During the meeting, Prince Saud decorated the Indian Ambassador with King Abdulaziz Medal of the First Class.

On this occasion, the Ambassador expressed thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom's government for awarding him this medal and supporting him during his term.

Meanwhile, meetings of the three-day Gulf Research Forum were concluded at Cambridge University in London. The meeting was attended by more than 450 participants, including Prince Turki al-Faisal, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a number of GCC secretariat staff, specialists, researchers and academics from renowned universities and think-tanks worldwide.

The Gulf Research Meeting is being held from 6-9 July 2011 at the University of Cambridge. Building on the success of the 2010 GRM, the 2nd annual Gulf Research Meeting aims to provide an academic environment to foster Gulf studies and promote scholarly and academic exchange among scholars.

The opening session of the Gulf Research Meeting 2011 was held on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 6, 2011. The speakers included HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies; H.E. Maj. Gen. Dr. Abdul Latef Bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Prof. Bahgat Korany, Director of the AUC Forum and Professor of International Relations and Political Economy at the American University in Cairo.

Stuart Laing, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Master of Corpus Christi College joined Dr. Sager in welcoming the delegates underlining the importance of such an academic setting and its contribution to scholarship on the Gulf region.

The Gulf Research Meeting features 17 workshops covering such disciplines of international relations, politics, economics, education, health to urban planning. More than one-third of the paper presenters are from the Gulf region.

In the opening session, Prince Turki, H.E. Dr. Al-Zayani and Prof. Korany focused on the implications of the recent political development in the Arab World on the Gulf region by underlining the changing circumstances and the need for regional governments to provide effective responses to the new challenges. While they argued that the GCC countries have provided responses, it was also clear that more additional steps would be required.

On the other hand, Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Majed Ibn Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah Province, announced on Sunday that Madinah is The Capital of Islamic Culture 2013.

The announcement came during a meeting with scholarly, literary, culture and information personnel in the presence of the Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz bin Muhaydin Khoja.

Addressing the meeting, Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Majed conveyed to the attendees the greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud and his best wishes for Madinah as The Capital of Islamic Culture, pointing to a royal decree in 1431H approving the proposal of the Minister of Culture and Information for the nomination of Madinah as the Capital of Islamic Culture 2013 and for holding the 8th session of the Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers in Madinah according to a decision of Islamic Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (ISESCO).

He said, 'This comes within the interest and keenness of the Saudi Leadership of this blessed country in the service of Islamic nations and their causes,' indicating in this regard to the selection of Makkah in 2003 as the first Islamic city as The Capital of Islamic Culture and now the selection of Madinah as The Capital of Islamic Culture 2013 to embody its historical, cultural, economic, and social characteristics of this blessed city to be a capital of culture, a symbol of Muslim unity and its association with its tolerant Islamic religion.'

Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Majed Ibn Abdulaziz expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the King, the Crown Prince and the Second Deputy Premier for their efforts in the service of the issues of Islamic nations, also expressing his thanks to and appreciation of Prince Salman Ibn Abdulaziz, the Governor of Riyadh Province, who is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of King Abdulaziz Foundation for Archives and Research and President of Madinah Research and Studies Center, and for the Minister of Culture and Information for the success of this event.

On his part, the Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz bin Muhaydin Khoja expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the King for approving the announcement that Madinah is The Capital of Islamic Culture 1434H.- 2013, and his keenness on making this grand cultural event compatible with the religious and scholarly status of Madinah, also thanking the Crown Prince and the Second Deputy Premier for supporting such a grand cultural event and the Governor of Madinah for patronizing it.

In Riyadh, Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the Secretary General of the Riyadh-based Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), denounced media-circulated Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi statement on Bahrain in which he claimed that Iran defends and supports the rights of the people of Bahrain, describing such statements as flagrant interference in the affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain and abuse of diplomatic traditions and norms and the requirements of good neighborhood.

In a press statement, Dr. Al-Zayani said the safeguard of the rights of the people of Bahrain is the responsibility of its prudent leadership who has decisively and firmly sought to enhance the country's security, stability and national peace adopting courageous initiatives, led by the start of dialogue to reach national reconciliation and the formation of an independent fact-finding committee to enhance national unity and push the reforms and progress process in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Secretary General of the GCC affirmed that the statement by the Iranian foreign minister and other Iranian officials just reflect the continuation of the Iranian method of interference in internal affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the spread of confusing propaganda which go contrary to building natural relations between the two countries.

Al-Zayani called on the Iranian officials to rather pay attention to the human rights of the Iranian people and their repeated cry for freedom and dignity and to desist from their provocative role to implant the seeds of sedition and sectarian fracture which are considered as violations of the principles of good neighborhood, and international norms and laws.

Bahrain has sentenced one of its citizens and two foreigners to 10 years in prison for spying for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Akhbar al-Khaleej newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Bahrain's high criminal court sentenced "three defendants to 10 years in prison for spying for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, one of them a Bahraini and two others" who worked as diplomats in Iran's embassy in Kuwait and were sentenced in absentia, the daily reported.

The prosecution said the three "spied from 2002 until April 2010 in the Kingdom of Bahrain and abroad," and gave the Guards economic and military information, including the locations of military, industrial and economic installations, Akhbar al-Khaleej said.

The Bahraini was recruited while visiting relatives in Kuwait, it said, adding the Iranians had also spied on the Kuwaiti military, US forces in Kuwait, and oil installations in the emirate.

In Tehran, a foreign ministry official rejected the reports as "incorrect".

"There is no information regarding arrest or sentencing of Iranian nationals in Bahrain," a ministry official in charge of Middle East affairs, Hossein Amir Abodolahian, told Mehr news agency.

"There had been past reports that an Iranian national had been arrested and tried by a Bahraini court... Our consul then met with him and it turned out he did not have Iranian nationality," he added.

In early April, Kuwait expelled three Iranian diplomats it accused of working for an Iranian spy ring, reportedly since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Iran in response expelled "several" Kuwaiti diplomats. The row also prompted the Gulf state to recall its ambassador from Tehran.

Iran and Kuwait have, however, reportedly exchanged ambassadors again.

Manama has along with other Gulf states repeatedly accused Iran of interference in Bahrain in connection with Shiite-led pro-reform protests in the tiny Gulf kingdom that were crushed in a bloody March crackdown by security forces.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Thursday called on Saudi Arabia to pull out its forces from Bahrain, the local Mehr news agency reported.

"We have asked Saudi Arabia to amend its interfering policies in Bahrain and pull out its forces from this country," Mehmanparast was quoted as saying.

The principle policy of the Islamic Republic is to improve relations with neighboring and regional countries and to move in the direction of collective work in the region, he told reporters in the southern city of Shiraz.

If such a collective work and convergence in the region is materialized, it can be helpful for the regional people and for the stability and security in the region, he added.

On Wednesday, the senior Iranian lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said that Tehran would hold talks with Saudi Arabia only after Saudi forces' withdrawal from Bahrain.

Also, head of National security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran's Parliament Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Wednesday that withdrawal of Saudi forces from Bahrain will pave the ground for the talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia over Bahrain.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal said Tuesday his country was ready for dialogue with Iran if the Iranians have a genuine desire for it.

In March, the Gulf troops, most from Saudi Arabia, arrived in Bahrain and officials said these troops would help Bahrain maintain order and protect strategic facilities after it is swept by demonstrations and protests, the worst crisis that shakes the tiny Gulf country.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. navy's 5th Fleet, is ruled by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa family where the majority Shiite population say they are facing discrimination in jobs and other services. The kingdom denies such claims.