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Friday, 21 February 2020

Saudi foreign minister publicly rebukes Putin's support for Assad

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal takes the Russian government to task for its role in the ongoing Syrian conflict, holding it "responsible for the suffering of the Syrians"

Ahmed Eleiba from Sharm El-Sheikh, Sunday 29 Mar 2015
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"Russia has been supplying the Syrian regime with the weapons that Bashar Al-Assad uses to kill his own people," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud El-Faisal said on Sunday.

The Saudi foreign minister, one of the staunchest opponents of the Assad regime, thus rebuked Russia's claim that it supports a peaceful resolution to the four-year civil war in Syria.

Russian president Vladimir Putin made the claim in a statement of "greetings and solidarity" to Arab leaders at the Arab League Summit being held this Saturday and Sunday in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Ahmed Ben Helli, deputy secretary-general of the Arab League, read out the statement at the summit's closing session on Sunday.

In his message, Putin expressed Moscow's support for the independence of Arab states, saying that his country "rejects all forms of foreign intervention in their internal affairs."

He added that Moscow shares the Arab world's ambitions for a better future, and the settlement of all conflicts through peaceful means, without outside intervention.

Russia has great interest in solving the crisis in Syria, Libya and Yemen through dialogue and national reconciliations, he said.

Putin's statement also underscored Moscow's commitment to the establishment a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  

Putin also denounced the "criminal acts" committed by jihadist groups, calling for the settlement of ongoing conflicts in Syria and Libya in accordance with international law.

After the statement was read at the Arab summit, the Saudi foreign minister took the microphone to challenge Russian claims on its position towards Syria, asserting that Al-Assad had managed to hold on to power thanks to military backing from Russia.

"Russia is largely responsible for the sufferings of the Syrians," Al-Faisal said.

Al-Faisal urged Moscow to adopt positions consistent with the content of Putin's message.

The top Saudi diplomat said that, by supplying arms to Al-Assad, Russia was violating its own laws that prohibit arming aggressor regimes.

Russia has publicly criticised the Saudi-led "foreign military intervention" against Houthi rebels in Yemen, calling for a peaceful solution to internal conflicts.

Arab League chief Nabil El-Arabi met with Russian deputy foreign minister and Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov on Friday, one day ahead of the Arab Summit, to discuss Russia's role in the region.

In exclusive comments to Ahram Online on Friday, El-Arabi said that Bogdanov had expressed Russia's willingness to call for a new peace conference in Moscow from 6 to 9 April to host both the Syrian regime and representatives of the Syrian opposition.

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