The London Conference

In Conversation with HE Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia

Tuesday 24 October, 1345 - 1415

Session Report

The minister addressed several topics during the session, including the position of President Trump in relation to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in the region, the risk of nuclear proliferation, Saudi Arabia's burgeoning relationship with Iraq, and the ongoing boycott of Qatar by some Gulf countries.

He spoke about his belief in "human adaptability" and that although periods of change bring instability, he was confident we would end up with a better world as a result. He said Saudi Arabia was supportive of President Trump's stance regarding Iran and the JCPOA, and that there was a need for tighter inspections within that country as the agreement has "weaknesses" within it.

HE Adel al-Jubeir noted that he felt stopping Iran in terms of nuclear capability also stopped potential nuclear proliferation across the region, and that a united and strong GCC can be a major force in protecting its own territory, although America's role in security remains "indispensable".

On Iraq, the minister outlined Saudi Arabia's desire to engage with the country, and highlighted the opening up of border crossings and a willingness to invest in Iraq as it rebuilds, stating a hope to be a partner and put their relationship on a "high strategic level".

The boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and several other countries remains in place, and he put across the view that Qatar needs to recognize it has a problem with terrorism and its associated activities, and begin to deal with it. He insisted that this is "not about humiliating anyone" but a hope that Qatar wants to be a "good neighbour".

During questions from the audience, HE Adel al-Jubeir outlined his country's aim to become an "innovative, dynamic, and progressive" society, with more empowerment of women and a transparent government. And that the changing nature of America's international role meant that the burden of international security would be shared among the rest of the world in partnership.

Speakers

Key Quotes

'Every time you go through periods of change, there is instability but we are not seeing the end of the world. We will end up with a better world. The US role on security in the Middle East is indispensible. But the world has to understand that it has to do burden sharing. It has to be a partnership. The world is changing because of technology and the internet and part of that change is a re-alignment of the partnership between the US and its allies, where everyone shares responsibility. If the world system suffers, we suffer. But I don't believe the US is retreating - quite the contrary.'

'The [JCPOA] agreement has weaknesses in it. There is no limit on Iran's ability to conduct research - their research capabilities and income capabilites can be enhanced. By the time the international community gets around to imposing sanctions, Iran will have a bomb, two bombs, a dozen bombs. We have a problem with inspections that need to be tighter, and Iran must be held accountable for its nefarious actions outside this agreement. The Iranians have to realise they cannot continue with business-as-usual with death and destruction in the region. If we can stop Iran, we can go a long way to stopping proliferation in the region.'

'We want to co-ordinate with Iraq on all levels, we want to invest in Iraq and it needs to rebuild after a difficult period of time. We want to be their partners and put the relationship on a high strategic level. Iran wants to dominate Iraq so it has a different agenda. The issue of Kurdistan is unfortunate and can be resolved through dialogue and the Iraq constitution. The tensions are not helpful to Iraq, either now or in the future.'

[On Qatar] 'Enough is enough. We have a country in denial, they need to think they have a problem so they can then think they need to fix it. This is not about humiliating anyone - it all depends on what they will do now that they have changed their laws.'

'The problem is broader than the Muslim Brotherhood. It is about terrorism, it is about the financing of terrorism. We in Saudi Arabia have acknowledged we had a problem and we have dealt with it.'

HE Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia

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