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The Interview – Exclusive: ‘We strongly stand by Jordan’s King Abdullah,’ says Saudi FM

21 min

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told FRANCE 24 on Sunday that the kingdom fully supported King Abdullah II of Jordan after the Jordanian authorities claimed they had foiled a “malicious plot” involving a former crown prince who had liaised with unspecified “foreign parties”. 

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In an exclusive interview, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud declined to speculate about which foreign parties were involved in the alleged plot, though he warned that any outside interference in the affairs of Jordan was “unacceptable”. 

“We are steadfast in our support for his majesty [King Abdullah II] and the people of Jordan in their efforts to ensure security and stability for both Jordan and the region,” said the Saudi foreign minister.

On the subject of talks this coming week about the Iranian nuclear deal, Prince Faisal said Saudi Arabia had been given assurances that any new deal would be more demanding of Iran when it comes to its ballistic missile capabilities and its support for armed groups in the region. 

“We are confident the international community will work hard to ensure that the deficiencies in the [2015 nuclear accord] are eventually addressed and they will also address the regional instability that is caused by Iran’s activities,” he said.

Prince Faisal said there were no direct channels between Saudi Arabia and Iran but that the Saudi kingdom was ready to talk “if Iran changes its behaviour”. 

Regarding the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat said a ceasefire proposal remained on the table despite a fresh Houthi offensive against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and continued strikes on Saudi territory. 

Prince Faisal also reiterated the Saudi stance that a normalisation of ties with Israel would only be possible after a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

No Netanyahu meeting

Under the “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US president Donald Trump last year, four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – agreed to normalise ties with the Jewish state. 

Reports in November that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held secret talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fuelled speculation that a normalisation accord with the Gulf’s top power could be in the making.

Prince Faisal, however, said there was “no such meeting”.

On the subject of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered in a Saudi consulate in 2018, the minister condemned an “abhorrent crime” and said Riyadh had “put in place controls and mechanisms to ensure something like that never happens again.”

Prince Faisal rejected claims by exiled former Saudi official Saad al-Jabri that the kingdom had sent a hit squad to kidnap or kill him, dismissing an attempt to “muddy the waters” and “distract from the fact that he has absconded with several billion dollars of Saudi government money”.

He refused to discuss the fate of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who has been charged with treason, is being held incommunicado, and whose health is reportedly deteriorating.

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