FOREIGN MINISTER AL SAUD: Secretary Blinken, Tony, my friend, welcome to Riyadh.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER AL SAUD: It’s good to have this opportunity to chat. The kingdom and the U.S. have always been close and we’ve always worked well together in the interests of regional and global security. And given the difficult time we are in now in the region, I think it’s an important opportunity for you and I to chat and for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to continue their cooperation towards regional security.
It’s a disturbing situation. It’s a very difficult situation. And the primary sufferer of this situation are civilians – civilian populations on both sides are being affected. And here it’s important, I think, that we all condemn the targeting of civilians in any form, at any time, by anyone. And I think that’s something that’s very clear, that’s something that’s clearly adopted by the Arab League.
But that said, the priority now needs to be to stop further civilian suffering. And here, we need to find a way to quickly de-escalate the situation, to quickly bring back peace, at least stopping the guns, and then working towards addressing also the humanitarian challenges.
So here I have to emphasize that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is very, very difficult, and we need to work together to make sure that access for humanitarian relief and humanitarian goods is allowed. This is something that is critical and is of course enshrined in international law.
And we need to work together to find a way out of this cycle of violence. This is something that we really, really need to focus on. Without a concerted effort to end this constant return to violence, it will always be the civilians that suffer first and always be civilians on both sides that end up paying the price.
So I hope that we can find a way to de-escalate the current situation, and then hopefully move forward to a more permanent solution.
So thank you again for coming, Tony. Thank you for all your work.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, Faisal, my friend, it’s very good to be with you. I wish it were under different circumstances, but it is important, as you said, that we consult closely, particularly at times like these. So I really value this opportunity.
And I would just say first, of course, that no country can or should be expected to tolerate what Israel has just been on the receiving end of, which is an attack that almost defies description and words, in which more than 1,300 of its people were slaughtered along with the nationals of more than 30 other countries, by Hamas.
Hamas is not representative of the Palestinian people or their legitimate aspirations for the future. Hamas is a terrorist group. Its only agenda is to destroy the state of Israel and to murder Jews. And it’s important that the entire world see it as such. This is, I think, an important moment for moral clarity when it comes to Hamas.
At the same time, as Israel pursues its legitimate right to defending its people and to trying to ensure that this never happens again, it is vitally important that all of us look out for civilians. And we’re working together to do exactly that, in particular working on establishing safe areas in Gaza, working on establishing corridors so that humanitarian assistance can reach people who need it. None of us want to see suffering by civilians on any side, whether it’s in Israel, whether it’s in Gaza, whether it’s anywhere else. And we’re working together to do our best to protect them.
I think at the same time, it’s vitally important – and I know that our countries agree – that we work together to make sure that, to the best of our ability, this conflict does not spread to other places and other fronts. And so I look forward to discussing that.
In addition, the United States and Saudi Arabia are working together very closely in a number of other critical areas where it’s so important to try to bring greater peace, greater stability, greater security. That includes, of course, Yemen as well as Sudan. So I look forward to the opportunity again, Faisal, to talk about that.
But thank you very much for, as always, having us today and for the conversation to follow.
FOREIGN MINISTER AL SAUD: Thank you.