Al-Hilal secured a 1-0 win over the Japanese club in the first leg on Saturday in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Al-Hilal secured a 1-0 win over the Japanese club in the first leg on Saturday in Riyadh
The crown prince’s decision comes as a result of his support for Saudi Arabian football in the AFC championship
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has ordered four planes to transport Al-Hilal fans to Japan to support the club in their AFC Champions League final second leg match against the Urawa Red Diamonds.
Al-Hilal secured a 1-0 win over the Japanese club in the first leg on Saturday in Riyadh. The return leg is in Saitama, near Tokyo on Nov. 24.
The Saudi Press Agency said the crown prince’s decision comes as a result of his support for Saudi Arabian football in the AFC championship and to boost the morale of the team to seal the title.
The Saudi General Sport Authority have begun to coordinate with Al-Hilal’s administration to arrange for transporting fans to Japan.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (C-L) walking alongside Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi (C) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (C-R) as they attend a peace-signing ceremony between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the southern separatists in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
The US ambassador commended King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for their role in bringing the parties together
DUBAI: World leaders and diplomats welcomed the signing of the Riyadh Agreement between the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) that was signed earlier this week.
The new arrangement – signed in Saudi Arabia – calls for an equal number of ministries between each of the STC and supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The negotiations began in August in the Saudi city of Jeddah after infighting threatened the unity of a coalition comprising STC forces and Hadi loyalists, which for years had been battling the Iran-allied Houthi militias.
“We are hopeful that the parties will use this critical opportunity to work together to end the conflict and to achieve the peace and stability that Yemen’s people deserve,” US Ambassador John Abizaid to Saudi Arabia said in a statement on Thursday.
The US ambassador commended King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for their role in bringing the parties together “to restore unity in shared efforts to end Yemen’s long and destructive conflict.”
British Ambassador Michael Aron also praised the Mohammad bin Salman, calling the signing of the agreement a “significant achievement secured by the efforts of the Crown Prince.”
“It is also a big step towards a comprehensive political settlement in Yemen. We welcome it and urge both parties to implement it in the timescales stipulated,” the UK envoy added.
Yemen’s UN envoy Martin Griffiths also described the deal as an “important step” for collective efforts to advance a peaceful settlement to Yemen’s conflict.
“Listening to southern stakeholders is important to the political efforts to achieve peace in the country,” he said in an online statement.
“I am grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for mediating successfully this agreement and for their strenuous diplomatic efforts,” Griffiths said.
Saudi Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid Bin Salman, praised the efforts of the warring sides to end their dispute.
“They have put the Yemeni people’s interests over any other consideration,” Prince Khaled tweeted.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammad Al-Nahyan praised Saudi Arabia’s role in “in bringing about the Riyadh Agreement,”
“We sincerely wish that peace and prosperity prevail and that Yemenis enjoy security, stability and development,” the crown prince said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed an agreement on Tuesday. (SPA)
RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Riyadh on Tuesday.
They reviewed the distinguished, friendly relationship between the two countries and looked at ways in which it can be further developed. They also discussed recent regional and international developments, and how the reactions and policies of the two nations might be coordinated.
At the end of the meeting, the crown prince and the prime minister signed an agreement to establish a Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 14, 2019. (Reuters)
The speeches dealt with areas of cooperation between the two countries and common opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation
RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired the first meeting of the Saudi-Russian Economic Committee in Riyadh on Monday.
At the beginning of the meeting, the crown prince stressed the importance of continuing cooperation and building strategic partnerships between the two countries, discussing many opportunities and joint investment and production projects in line with Vision 2030.
President Putin noted in his speech at the meeting that the major Saudi-Russian participating companies play a key role in the economy between the two, praising the successful cooperation between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, stressing the role of the crown prince in the establishment of this partnership.
Afterwards, Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, chairman of the Saudi side of the Saudi-Russian Economic Committee, delivered a speech in which he affirmed the Kingdom’s readiness to achieve the desired objectives of future plans and joint projects, praising the RDIF for opening a branch in Riyadh, the first outside Russia.
The CEO of the RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev, chairman of the Russian side of the committee, noted the cooperation and keenness of both countries to develop and work through the committee to strengthen economic ties.
More speeches were delivered by heads of Saudi and Russian companies, including Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, Andrei Guriev, CEO of PhosAgro, Yousef Al-Benyan, CEO of SABIC and Musa Bazhayev, president of Alliance Group.
The speeches dealt with areas of cooperation between the two countries and common opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation.
At the end of the meeting, the minutes were signed by Dmitriev and Prince Abdullah.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia “shows the growing role Russia is playing in the Middle East”
DUBAI: There is “outstanding potential for cooperation” between Saudi Arabia and Russia, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund told Arab News on Sunday.
Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said the forthcoming visit to the Kingdom this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin “shows the growing role Russia is playing in the Middle East.”
Dmitriev spoke after he was honored by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week with the Order of King Abdul Aziz, which is given for outstanding services to the Kingdom and is the leading Saudi national honor.
“To belong to the order is the highest distinction and honor in the Kingdom,” Dmitriev said.
“Relations between our countries are developing intensively in all areas of bilateral cooperation, and I am extremely grateful for such a high recognition of the efforts of RDIF.”
Dmitriev is only the second Russian citizen to receive the award, after President Putin himself. It was given “in recognition of his contribution to strengthening cooperation between the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.”
RDIF and Saudi Arabia have been involved in $2.7 billion of joint investment in energy, industrial and infrastructure projects since the Russia-Saudi Investment Fund was set up two years ago.
When the Kingdom welcomes President Putin on a state visit this month, further multimillion-dollar deals are expected to be announced in petrochemicals, agriculture and energy services.
MBS denies allegations that he ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
War with Iran could bring the global economy to standstill MBS warns
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that as leader of the kingdom, he takes full responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, because it involved people working for the government, but categorically denied ordered the killing.
In a wide-ranging interview with Norah O’Donnell, the anchor of CBS Evening News, the crown prince was also asked about the current tensions with Iran, the war in Yemen and women’s rights.
On the murder of Khashoggi he said: “This was a heinous crime … But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government,” he said in the interview that was aired on Sunday.
“When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials, working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future,” the crown prince added.
On whether or not he knew of the operation, the crown prince said: “Some think that I should know what three million people working for the Saudi government do daily. It’s impossible that the three million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second-highest person in the Saudi government.”
Asked about CIA reports regarding his alleged involvement in the murder, the crown prince challenged the agency to make their information public.
“If there is any such information that charges me, I hope it is brought forward publicly.” he said.
He also said that no journalist is a threat to Saudi Arabia, and that on the contrary, what happened to Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, is the real threat to the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is undergoing a massive series of reforms which has seen women’s rights improved, with the lifting of the driving ban and the guardianship requirement which prevented women from traveling without the consent of a male family member.
Norah O’Donnell asked him about allegations Saudi female activist Loujain Al-Hathloul had been tortured in prison.
“If this is correct, it is very heinous. Islam forbids torture. The Saudi laws forbid torture,” he said, adding: “Human conscience forbids torture. And I will personally follow up on this matter.”
O’Donnel then suggested to the crown prince that he “does not support women’s rights and human rights.”
“This perception pains me. It pains me when some people look at the picture from a very narrow angle. I hope that everybody comes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and sees the reality, and meets women and Saudi citizens, and judges for themselves,” he responded.
War in Yemen
On the five-year-long war in Yemen he said: “If Iran stops its support of the Houthi militia then the political solution would be much easier. Today we open all initiatives to a political solution in Yemen. We hope this happens today rather than tomorrow
Asked if he was saying he wanted a negotiated settlement to the war in Yemen he replied: “We are doing this every day.”
“But we try to turn this discussion into an actual implementation on the ground, and the Houthis – a few days ago – announced a ceasefire from their side. We consider it a positive step to push for more serious and active political dialogue.”
The crown prince was asked how he could trust a Houthi ceasefire: “As a leader I must always be optimistic every day. If I am a pessimist, I should leave my post and work somewhere else”
Iran tensions and the Aramco attack
He told CBS “60 Minutes” that he believed the Sept. 14 attacks were an act of war, but he added that he would prefer to see a peaceful resolution to the current tensions.
The recent attack against the Saudi Aramco facility “didn’t hit the heart of the Saudi energy industry, but rather the heart of the global energy industry,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS “60 Minutes
Crown Prince #MohammedbinSalman speaking to CBS “60 Minutes” says the reasons why Iran could have struck the #Aramco facility were because of “stupidity,” but agreeing with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo he said it was “an act of war”
He said: “Because the political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one.”
He said a war with Iran would mean the total collapse of the global economy.
He called for Donald Trump to sit at the table with the Iranians – something he blamed the latter for its failure to happen.
The strikes against the oil-processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais resulted in knocking off 50 percent of the Kingdom’s oil production, or about five percent of global energy supply.
Days later the crown prince and the Saudi energy minister pledged that the Kingdom would deliver oil supplies to consumers for the month and would revive oil production to 11 million barrels a day.
It was a task the state-owned company achieved ahead of schedule.
The US then imposed further sanctions on Iranian assets on Sept. 20, including on Iran’s central bank and the National Development Fund of Iran.
“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” the crown prince said in the CBS interview.
“Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”
Speaking of the Middle East’s role in the global economy he added: “The region represents about 30 percent of the world’s energy supplies, about 20 percent of global trade passages, about four percent of the world GDP.”
“Imagine all of these three things stop. This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.”
The wide-ranging interview was conducted with Norah O’Donnell, the anchor of CBS Evening News
The crown prince discussed the Jamal Khashoggi case, the war in Yemen and the global threat from Iran
Norah O’Donnell: Did you order the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.
Norah O’Donnell: What does that mean that you take responsibility?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials, working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future.
Norah O’Donnell: The world wants the answer to this question. How did you not know about this operation?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Some think that I should know what three million people working for the Saudi government do daily? It’s impossible that the three million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second highest person in the Saudi government.
Norah O’Donnell: Two of your closest advisors who are accused of orchestrating this plot were fired by the king, removed from your inner circle. The question is, how could you not know if this was carried out by people who are close to you?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Today the investigations are being carried out. And once charges are proven against someone, regardless of their rank, it will be taken to court, no exception made.
Norah O’Donnell: I’ve read what the Saudi prosecutor has said about those that are charged in this murder. And it’s gruesome, the details. When you heard that people close to you and in your government carried out such a grisly murder, and that the American government thinks that you ordered it, what did you think?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I believe what you mentioned is not correct. There isn’t an official statement announced by the American government in this regard. There isn’t clear information or evidence that someone close to me did something to that effect. There are charges and they’re being investigated. But again you cannot imagine the pain that we suffered, especially as the Saudi government, from a crime such as this one.
Norah O’Donnell: The CIA has concluded with medium to high confidence that you personally targeted Khashoggi and you probably ordered his death.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I hope this information to be brought forward. If there is any such information that charges me, I hope it is brought forward publicly.
Norah O’Donnell: What kind of threat is a newspaper columnist to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that he would deserve to be brutally murdered?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: There is no threat from any journalist. The threat to Saudi Arabia is from such actions against a Saudi journalist. This heinous crime, that took place in a Saudi consulate.
Norah O’Donnell: I spoke with a prominent U.S. senator before I came here. And he said because of what happened with Jamal Khashoggi and what’s happened in Yemen that in his words there’s not a lot of good will around here in Congress for Saudi Arabia. How much has it hurt the relationship?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: The relationship is much larger than that and this is a heinous incident and painful to all of us. Our role is to work day and night to overcome this and to make sure our future is much better than anything that happened in the past.
Norah O’Donnell: This attack hit the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry. Were you blindsided?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I might disagree with you. This attack didn’t hit the heart of the Saudi energy industry, but rather the heart of the global energy industry. It disrupted 5.5% of the world’s energy needs, the needs of the U.S. and China and the whole world.
Norah O’Donnell: The kingdom is the world’s number one importer of arms, of military equipment; billions of dollars spent on equipment. How could it not prevent an attack like this?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Saudi Arabia is almost the size of a continent, it is bigger than all of Western Europe. We have 360 degrees of threats. It’s challenging to cover all of this fully.
Norah O’Donnell: What do you think was the strategic reason that Iran struck Aramco?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I believe it’s stupidity. There is no strategic goal. Only a fool would attack 5% of global supplies. The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did.
Norah O’Donnell: Secretary Mike Pompeo has called what Iran did in his words, “an act of war.” Was it an act of war?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Of course. Yes.
Norah O’Donnell: What kind of effect would a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran have on the region?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: The region represents about 30% of the world’s energy supplies, about 20% of global trade passages, about 4% of the world GDP. Imagine all of these three things stop. This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests. Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.
Norah O’Donnell: Does it have to be a military response?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: I hope not.
Norah O’Donnell: Why not?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Because the political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one.
Norah O’Donnell: Do you think that President Trump should sit down with President Rouhani and craft a new deal?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Absolutely. This is what President Trump is asking for, this is what we all ask for. However, it is the Iranians who don’t want to sit at the table.
Norah O’Donnell: It is called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. What’s the solution?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: First, if Iran stops its support of the Houthi militia, the political solution will be much easier. Today we open all initiatives for a political solution in Yemen. We hope this happens today rather than tomorrow.
Norah O’Donnell: You’re saying tonight that you want to negotiate an end to the war in Yemen?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: We are doing this every day. But we try to turn this discussion into an actual implementation on the ground, and the Houthis a few days ago announced a ceasefire, from their side, we consider it a positive step to push for more serious and active political dialogue.
Norah O’Donnell: Why, after five years, are you optimistic tonight that a ceasefire could hold, that could lead to an end to the war in Yemen?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: As a leader, I must always be optimistic every day. If I’m a pessimist, I should leave my post and work somewhere else.
Norah O’Donnell: There are about a dozen female activists that have been detained for more than a year. Why were they put in jail?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Saudi Arabia is a country governed by laws. Some of these laws I might disagree with personally, but as long as they are now existing laws, they must be respected, until they are reformed.
Norah O’Donnell: Is it time to let her (female activist Loujain Al-Hathloul) go?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: This decision is not up to me. It’s up to the public prosecutor, and it’s an independent public prosecutor.
Norah O’Donnell: Her family says that she has been tortured in prison. Is that right?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: If this is correct, it is very heinous. Islam forbids torture. The Saudi laws forbid torture. Human conscience forbids torture. And I will personally follow up on this matter.
Norah O’Donnell: You will personally follow up on it?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Without a doubt.
Norah O’Donnell: Publicly you have pledged to change Saudi Arabia, to transform the economy, to talk about a moderate Islam, to allow women to have more rights. Yet there is a crackdown and a jailing of women who raise issues about things that need to change in Saudi Arabia. That is the perception, that you do not support women’s rights and human rights and that these are concrete examples of women who have been jailed.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: This perception pains me. It pains me when some people look at the picture from a very narrow angle. I hope that everybody comes to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and sees the reality, and meets women and Saudi citizens, and judges for themselves.
Norah O’Donnell: What lessons have you learned? And have you made mistakes?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman: Even prophets made mistakes. So how come we, as humans, expect not to make mistakes? The important thing is that we learn from these mistakes and not repeat them.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday described strikes on key Saudi oil installations as an “act of war” as he landed in Jeddah to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Reuters)
Pompeo described the drone and cruise missile strikes on Saturday as an ‘Iranian attack’
Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.
JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said Iranian strikes on key Saudi oil installations will not go unpunished as he reaffirmed his country’s support for Saudi Arabia in a meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The U.S. stands with #SaudiArabia and supports its right to defend itself. The Iranian regime’s threatening behavior will not be tolerated,” Pompeo tweeted after the meeting in Jeddah.
Pompeo stressed during the meeting that the US supports the steps taken by the Saudi Arabia for international experts to investigate the source of the attacks on Saudi Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais on Sept. 14, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Houthi militias in Yemen had initially claimed responsibility for the drone and cruise missile strikes, but Pompeo said it was an “Iranian attack”.
He said the strikes had not come from the Iran-backed Houthi militants and that there was no evidence the attacks had been launched from Iraq.
“This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” he added.
For his part, the Crown Prince stressed during the meeting that these attacks were aimed at destabilizing the region’s security and damaging global energy supplies and economy.
The meeting was attended by Prince Khalid bin Salman, Deputy Minister of Defense, and Dr. Musaed AlAiban, State Minister and Member of Council of Ministers, as well as the US Ambassador in Riyadh John Abizaid.
Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.
Pompeo’s visit comes as President Donald Trump said on Wednesday there were many options short of war with Iran after Saudi Arabia’s display of remnants of drones and missiles it said were used in the I that was “unquestionably sponsored” by Tehran.
“There are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options that are a lot less than that. And we’ll see,” Trump told reporters in Los Angeles. “I’m saying the ultimate option meaning go in — war.”
Trump, who earlier said on Twitter that he had ordered the US Treasury to “substantially increase” sanctions on Iran, told reporters the unspecified, punitive economic measures would be unveiled within 48 hours.
Trump’s tweet followed repeated US assertions that the Islamic Republic was behind Saturday’s attack on Aramco facilities and came hours after Saudi Arabia said the strike was a “test of global will.”
Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had spoken with US President Donald Trump about the Aramco attack, and agreed that Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Also on Wednesday, Kuwait’s army released a statement announcing it was raising its preparedness level for some units, given the tensions in the Middle East region.
TAIF: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman patronized the closing ceremony of the 2nd edition of the Crown Prince Camel Festival on Sunday.
The ceremony took place at the camel racing field in Taif, in the presence of princes, dignitaries and guests of the festival from various Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
Upon arrival, the crown prince was received by Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority and Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Musaed, president of the Saudi Camel Federation.
Prince Abdul Aziz thanked King Salman and the crown prince for their continuous support for the athletes of the Kingdom.
He added that this year witnessed the participation of 13,377 camels.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the crown prince distributed prizes to the winners of the camel races.
The palace located on the western bank of the Al-Batha’ Valley near Riyadh’s Al-Murabbah neighborhood
JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ordered the restoration of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman Palace — also known as Al-Shamsiyyah Palace — at his own expense. The planned restoration is part of the crown prince’s ongoing support for and historical landmarks in the Kingdom.
Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan expressed his gratitude to the crown prince for his latest gesture of support for the Kingdom’s culture and heritage.
The palace, located on the western bank of the Al-Batha’ Valley near Riyadh’s Al-Murabbah neighborhood, has unique inscriptions that reflect the prevalent local style of architecture from the 1950s, he said.
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