Secretary-General’s press encounter with Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmad Al-Jubeir of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Feb 12, 2017

Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres during the joint press conference with H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir Minister of Foreign Affairs / UN photo / Mohammed Al Deghaishim

Thank you very much, Honorable Minister. I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to His Majesty, the Custodian of the Holy Mosques, to His Royal Majesties, His Royal Highnesses, the Crown Prince and the Deputy Crown Prince, and to His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for the very warm hospitality that I was granted here in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is an important pillar of stability in the region and in the world. But it is also a country that is living a transformational period with its agenda 2030, its vision for 2030, that corresponds with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that the United Nations are promoting everywhere in the world. I want to express my strong hope for the success of the transformational agenda of Saudi Arabia, strengthening its capacity to play a more and more important role as one of the pillars of multilateralism in today’s world.

Indeed there is very strong cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United Nations and, as His Excellency the Minister said, that cooperation has been particularly important in relation to counterterrorism, enabling the United Nations -- and we will be also reforming our counterterrorism capacity -- enabling the United Nations to play an increasing role in supporting member states in developing the capacities and the tools that are necessary to fight terrorism effectively, and at the same time to fight the forms of violent extremism that feed terrorism in the world.

I would like to say that when one looks into today’s world, we see terrorism being [fed] by many aspects but there is one that is particularly worrying for me. The lack of political solution in several situations -- in Syria, it is very important to fight Da’esh, it is very important to combat terrorism in Syria, but we’ll never be successful in fighting terrorism in Syria if an inclusive political solution in not found for the Syrian people. And at the same time, one of the things that fuels terrorism is the expression in some parts of the world of islamophobic feelings and islamophobic policies and islamophobic hate speeches. This is sometimes the best support that Da’esh can have to make its own propaganda. So, we need to have a comprehensive approach to fight terrorism, including creating the conditions for societies that are multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural, to be inclusive, to be cohesive, investing in the conditions to make diversity a richness, not a threat.

At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation for the work that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has done helping the Syrian opposition to come together, to present a united delegation to the Geneva conference, this is a very important step for a political solution to be possible for the Syrian conflict. We also share our concern in relation to the risks of situations in several countries, hoping, namely in the case of Iraq, that after the liberation of Mosul, a truly inclusive reconciliation is possible and that all the groups that constitute the State of Iraq are able to live together, to respect each other and to create conditions for all of them t o participate in the united state of Iraq in which all can feel that it is their country and all can feel they are treated equally.

And the same applies to several other similar situations in the world. To have comprehensive political solutions, bringing people together, is essential from Libya to Yemen, to Syria, to Iraq. We have had the opportunity to have very important discussions and very constructive discussions in relation to the possible future political solutions for Yemen, for Libya, and I want to express once again my deep appreciation for the hospitality that was granted to me and for the very substantive dialogue that was possible during this visit.

Question on the state of the Yemen negotiations:


Secretary-General: You know, I am a Catholic, and Catholics believe in resurrection. So if negotiations are dead, they can always resurrect. And I do believe that they need to for a very simple reason: the suffering of the Yemeni people. I was High Commissioner for Refugees for ten years and I went to Yemen several times. And I’ve seen the generosity of the Yemeni people. They received, being a very poor country, refugees from Somalia, granting them prima facie refugee status, sharing everything with them. And to see this people, that is so generous, suffering so much, is something that really breaks my heart. So whatever we can do to make resurrection of the need for people to be able to negotiate, to be able to come to a solution for the Yemeni people, is something that we will always be available to contribute to.

Question on humanitarian aid in Yemen:


Secretary-General: First of all, one of the reasons I am travelling in the region, is exactly to be able to support our Envoy [for Yemen Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed] in his work. And his work is of course to try to do everything, in line with international law and with international resolutions, for a solution to be possible to end the suffering of the Yemeni people. Of course, we very much regret anything that is done anywhere in which humanitarian aid is diverted. Humanitarian aid is for the people that suffer. Humanitarian aid is for those that really need it and so we are very keen in always appealing to all parties to any conflict not to use humanitarian aid for purposes that are not humanitarian and we will always condemn any form of intervention that will lead for a deviation to take place.

Question on UN Envoy:


Secretary-General: My answer is very simple, our Envoy [for Yemen Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed] has my full support and I believe that he is doing an impartial work, that he is doing it in a very professional way, and independently of what other people may think, he has my full support.

Question on impact of UN reforms in Saudi Arabia:


Secretary-General: What I perceive and what I want is a very open and loyal cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UN. As I said, we consider Saudi Arabia to be a key global player and a key pillar of multilateralism and what we want to have with Saudi Arabia a very constructive and positive relationship.

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