Saudi Ambassador to the US His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal speaks before an audience at Philadelphia's Union League. Prince Turki urges America not to suddenly withdraw troops from Iraq and to support the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as the best hope for stability.
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HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal
Ambassador Prince Turki began his tenure in the U.S. in September 2005 as his predecessor, Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, completed a 23 year posting in Washington. Ambassador Prince Turki comes to the U.S. having served as Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland from 2003-2005, and as the Director of the Saudi National Intelligence Agency for 25 years.
Trudy Rubin was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary in 2001 for her columns on Israel and the Palestinians. She has special expertise on the Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe.
In 2003 to 2006, Rubin made seven trips to Iraq and two to Iran, and also visited Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, China and South Korea. She is the author of Willful Blindness: The Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her Iraq columns from 2002 to 2004.
His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal is the ambassador of the kingdom of SaudiArabia to the United States of America. Prince Turki was educated at the Lawrencevilleprep School, educated at Georgetown University Princeton and Cambridge. Prior totaking up his post in Washington, Prince Turki served as Saudi Arabia's ambassador tothe United Kingdom and Ireland from 2003 to 2005 and as the director general of thegeneral intelligence directorate, the kingdoms foreign intelligence service from 1977 until2001. Prince Turki is also active in many cultural organizations as one of the founders ofthe King Faisal Foundation and Chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research inIslamic Studies in Riyadh which works to encourage mutual understanding betweenreligions. He is also the co-chair of the C-100 group which promotes interfaith, dialogueand has been affiliated with the world economic forum since 2003. We are also mostfortunate to be joined today Trudy Rubin, our foreign affairs columnist for thePhiladelphia Inquirer. Trudy has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and isthe author of the Willful Blindness - the Bush Administration and Iraq. Prior to 1983,Trudy lived in Jerusalem and Beirut serving as Middle East correspondent for theChristian Science Monitor. In her over 30 years of experience Trudy has traveled aroundthe globe covering a range of social and political issues. In 2001, she made Philadelphiaproud and she was named as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her analytical commentaryon the Middle East. Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming His RoyalHighness Prince Turki Al-Faisal and Trudy Rubin.Prince Turki I understand that you are going to make a few remarks first, is that correct?Well, if you want me to do that sitting down I would be happy to do it but if you don'tmind I will prefer to stand.Oh, please do.Thank you. [Foreign language].Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much Ms. McBride and to all the various council for inviting me today.Mr. (Sayer) thank you very much and I appreciate your kind introduction.Ms. Rubin, I have known you for far longer than either of us wishes to remember.Your reporting and insightful coverage have contributed to a greater understanding of the Middle East.I hope that my remarks today will help to achieve this as well.It's a privilege to come to Philadelphia, the birthplace and home to one of my favorite figures in American history,Benjamin Franklin. Of all the wonderful stories and historical anecdotes there are about BenFranklin. It is most appropriate for today's discussion to mention his leadership in thearea of foreign affairs. As you all know he wasAmerica's first ambassador to France and successfully developed a strong friendshipbetween the two countries. His diplomatic efforts led to America's first formal alliancewith a major super power and established a strong blueprint for American diplomacy.His success with the French was based on a few basic but fundamental principles. First,he developed an open dialogue. Second, he always had the courage to firmly uphold theideals of his nation. And finally, Mr. Franklin was creative in his approach to thechallenges of the day. These three principles are no different than the ones that have beenused to build a strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. For morethan 60 years our two nations have used these ideas to work together and to tackle someof the world's largest and difficult problems from energy security and the cold war.Today we face many difficult challenges that continue to challenge both of us and theydeal primarily with the Middle East. The region is faced with several conflicts, some ofthem lasting decades. Saudi Arabia has been working diligently to resolve all of themand we continue to work with the United States to this end.Briefly I would like to address some these issues. As it is clearly a topical matter, I willstart with Iran. Its nuclear ambitions are clearly a concern for the global community. Webelieve the entire Middle East should be a nuclear free zone including Israel. So wespeak directly with Iran on all issues. We find that talking with them is better than nottalking with them.Next there is Iraq. With each passing day Iraq falls deeper and deeper into bloodshed.More innocent civilians are caught up in escalating sectarian clashes each day. SaudiArabia continues to work for a solution which we believe will need to come from withinthe Iraq. We have worked hard to try to bring stability to a nation that is struggling andwe will continue to work for a peaceful and sovereign Iraq. The struggle in Iraq ispolitical, not sectarian or ethnic. Pure political ambition is driving the fighting, and onlya political solution will stop it. Efforts to engage all parties must be strengthened. Ourefforts in diplomacy have been coupled with an unyielding support for humanitarian reliefand assistance to the Iraqi people. Throughout the conflict, the Kingdom has offered theeconomic support. During meetings held at the United Nations, Saudi Arabia led theformation of several initiatives to support its neighbor. One of these initiatives was arecent pledge to extend $1 billion towards the reconstruction of Iraq.Moving on, ladies and gentlemen, there is a problem of Lebanon. In recent years, theworld witnessed a nation that was seemingly beyond reconstruction and was justreemerging as a center for culture, commerce and tourism in the Middle East. However,the Israeli air-strikes on this - of this summer not only destroyed infrastructure, they alsojeopardized the spirit of the Lebanese people. These events along with a series ofassassinations beginning with late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and more recently withCabinet Minister Pierre Gemayel have dealt a serious blow to the progress of aflourishing nation. The Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory the Shebaa Farms drivesHezbollah's military resistance to Israel. We move Israeli occupation and the Lebanesewill disarm Hezbollah.Saudi Arabia has stood by the Lebanese government and continues to support the peopleof Lebanon in their struggle for peace and stability. Ladies and gentlemen, there is atendency to compartmentalize and keep these issues separate. This is not the bestapproach. What is really needed is a holistic and comprehensive strategy that startsdirectly from the root of the problem and that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. After fivedecades allowing the situation to continue is inhuman. Palestinians and Israelis are dyingand I fear that more killing that is allowed to take place the more hatred is spread on bothsides. And the more difficult it becomes to establish peace. Our common enemies use itthis problem to fuel their extremisms and we can now - we cannot allow this to continue.Peace is no longer simply a regional necessity, but a global imperative. Unfortunately,every time we get close our hopes are dashed.For 50 years, ladies and gentlemen, we've had ideas and proposals, resolutions andinitiatives and even full-blown accords. But never has there been an honest and justimplementation or enforcement of these agreements. Right now, even after the events ofthis summer we still have the roadmap - President Bush's roadmap and the AbdullahPeace Plan - King Abdullah's Peace Plan that was presented in 2002 to the Arab SummitConference in Beirut. We finally need to bring these parties to the negotiating table. Alasting and just peace plan can only result from the diplomatic negotiations.Israelis and Palestinians can begin to build confidence and trust in a process that takesinto account the needs of both sides. Only when there is trust in the process, can there betrust in the implementation of the solution. Again, remove Israeli occupation of Palestineand we can remove the arms that - that caused all the killing. Saudi Arabia has been openabout its willingness to take a lead in engaging on these issues and this particular issue.We believe it is time for the rest of the international community to join us, because noone nation can resolve this issue alone. I am glad that Saudi Arabia and the United Statescan expand on our historic friendship, and work together to bring stability to a troubled,but important region.As I mentioned earlier, the diplomatic principles established for America by BenjaminFranklin, are the very foundations for the relationship between the Kingdom and theUnited States. They are certainly being employed today. From the first visit by anAmerican President to Saudi Arabia in 1945, when Franklin Roosevelt met King AbdulAziz in the Red Sea, to the most recent visit to Saudi Arabia by Vice President Cheney.We now serve as an example of what it means to have an open and honest relationship.This, ladies and gentlemen, reminds me of a story of Franklin Roosevelt and WinstonChurchill, two great leaders and two great allies. Winston Churchill was a guest in theWhite House during the war years and President Roosevelt wanted to honor him byputting him up at the White House instead of Blair House. And one night, Mr. Rooseveltwheeled into Mr. Churchill's room and found him stark naked. So he tried to wheel backin embarrassment but Churchill turned to him and said, "Mr. President, the PrimeMinister of England has nothing to hide from the President of the United States."Over a year ago, when I presented my diplomatic credentials to your Secretary of State, Itold her the story. And while I assured her that I was not going to come to her any daynaked, I did convey that this is the kind of relationship we would like to have with theUnited States; an open one and one that's full of dialogue and cooperation and greaterunderstanding. Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman.