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Palestinians Have the Right to Exist as Well: Saud

July 2, 2012

Saturday, May 17. 2008

RIYADH, 17 May 2008 — Saudi Arabia rejected any notion of increasing oil production to help ease soaring gasoline prices, telling US President George W. Bush during his visit to the Kingdom yesterday that it is already meeting customer demands for crude.

This was Bush’s second appeal to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah this year to increase oil output to reduce the upward pressure on prices. Bush made the appeal in Riyadh yesterday while on the second leg of his Middle East tour.

“How much more does Saudi Arabia need to do to satisfy the people who are questioning our oil practices or oil policies?” asked Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi, in a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

Prince Saud described King Abdullah’s talks with Bush as “comprehensive, deep and candid.” He said the Kingdom had followed “with concern” Bush’s speech in the Israeli Knesset. “All of us realize the special relationship that exists between the United States and Israel and its political dimensions. However, it is also important to confirm legitimate historical and political rights of the Palestinian people according to international law which have been hijacked by Israeli occupation forces.”

Legitimate Rights

Prince Saud said the Kingdom agreed with what the US president said regarding the right of nations to have justice, freedom and hope, adding that the Palestinian people are in dire need of these legitimate rights, which they have been denied for 60 years.

“We believe that the right to the existence of one nation does not eliminate the legitimate right to the existence of another nation,” he stressed, adding that the Annapolis meeting in the United States had visualized the creation of a Palestinian and Israeli state living side by side.

On the demand for more oil, Al-Naimi said: “If there is a customer that needs additional crude please come and ask for it. Over the last few months, when supplies from Venezuela and Mexico were reduced to the US, who supplied the difference? We supplied to the tune of 300,000 additional barrels per day … to our customers in the US… So how much more can we do?”

He asserted that the problem was not in the Kingdom increasing oil production, but rather in a lack of customers. He added that the Kingdom had already decided to increase its oil production for June because of customer requests in May.

“On May 10, we increased production in response to our customers because they asked for it. So our production for the month of June will be 9.4 million barrels per day,” he said. “This is the request of about 60 customers worldwide.”

J. Robinson West, chairman of PFC Energy in Washington, told The Washington Post, “The Saudis are doing all you can reasonably expect.” He added that the Kingdom sees an inconsistency between the US demanding more production and not opening itself to more drilling.

According to a US government official, who spoke to The Washington Post, the Kingdom “does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy.” He added that the Kingdom is willing to put oil on the market in amounts sufficient to meet customer demands.

Prince Saud called on American congressmen, who have criticized the Kingdom’s policies on oil, terrorism and the Middle East peace process, to visit the Kingdom and to see for themselves.

“All I can say to those who are criticizing us is to come over and see what we have been doing all these years,” said Prince Saud. “I would suggest to Congress to come and see… come and tell us what their questions are, what their anxieties are… Let us talk. And as the famous saying in Congress goes, ‘Let us sit down and reason together.’”

He added that all official agencies that deal with terrorism and which report to the Congress are satisfied with the Kingdom’s cooperation with the US.

The Kingdom and the US signed a technical cooperation agreement for the protection of institutions and infrastructure, and another agreement in which the US would help the Kingdom develop nuclear energy, Prince Saud added.

The foreign minister also ruled out any possibility that American troops would secure the Kingdom’s oil institutions. “The agreement signed is in the line of training and exchange of expertise. No other party will be involved in securing (the Kingdom’s) oil institutions… only Saudis.”

Asked whether the Kingdom’s nuclear agreement with the US was a message to Iran, Prince Saud said: “It’s a message to everybody that Saudi Arabia is going to produce a civilian nuclear program.”

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