Thursday 19 September 2019

Saudi king in plea for action to stop 'Iran creating chaos'

Annual address: Saudi Arabia's King Salman hit out at arch-rivals Iran. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS
Annual address: Saudi Arabia's King Salman hit out at arch-rivals Iran. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Stephen Kalin

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has urged the international community to halt Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and reiterated the kingdom's support for UN efforts to end the war in Yemen.

The king's annual remarks to the Shura Council, a top governmental advisory body, were his first public comments since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, which sparked a global outcry.

King Salman, who did not mention the Khashoggi affair, condemned the actions of Iran, its arch-rival, for influence in the region, including in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

"The Iranian regime has created chaos and devastation in many countries in the region," the 82-year-old monarch said.

"The international community has to work to put an end to the Iranian nuclear programme and stop its activities that threaten stability."

The king said Riyadh supported UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-backed coalition has been battling Iran-aligned Houthi rebels for nearly four years to restore the internationally recognised government. "Our standing by Yemen was not an option but a duty to support the people in confronting the aggression of Iranian-backed militias," he said.

The Houthis said yesterday they were halting drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their Yemeni allies, and indicated readiness for a broader ceasefire if the Saudi-led coalition "wants peace".

Riyadh has come under growing international criticism for its conduct in the Yemen war, which has brought the country to the brink of famine and killed many civilians in air strikes.

The reputation of Saudi Arabia has been further battered by the Khashoggi murder.

Irish Independent

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