Mouallimi: We are Contacting UN Officials to Correct Errors in their Reports


Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative at the United Nations Abdullah al-Mouallimi stated that the international organization’s recent report on Yemen was “inaccurate” and contained misleading information.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Riyadh will continue communication with UN officials in order to clarify their report, which accused the Saudi-led coalition of being responsible for the death and injury of 683 children in Yemen.

He added that the report relied on weak sources and that the UN did not put any effort into finding strong ones.

Once the facts and information are obtained from the ground in Yemen, the UN would be able to monitor the humanitarian situation there better, explained Mouallimi.

Yemeni Ambassador to the US Ahmed bin Mubarak echoed the Saudi accusations, adding that the UN based its report on the findings of groups that are biased and politicized in their work in Yemen. These groups are close to either deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh or the Houthi militia.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the relief organizations that have been seized by coup forces in Yemen have sought to distort the facts and accuse the legitimate government and those aiding it of baseless charges.

“It is laughable to accuse the Yemeni government of recruiting children while the entire world witnesses child recruitment and has not lifted a finger to stop it,” he continued.

“The world has not condemned the recruitment of children and their use as human shields by the Houthis,” he noted.

Furthermore, the ambassador stressed that the Yemeni government set up, in cooperation with the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, a center for the rehabilitation of children in order to allow them to once again return to normal life.

He wondered why this fact was not included in the UN report.

Bogadnov: King Salman’s Visit to Russia is Successful on All Levels


Moscow – Russian deputy Foreign Minister and envoy to the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov expressed his country’s satisfaction with the outcomes of the summit held in the Kremlin between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The visit was successful on all levels.”

“It stressed the existence of a strong serious political will from the two sides to raise the ties between them to a new level.”

“We can say that it represents a solid base to deepen and expand cooperation,” he added.

“The talks reflected the two countries’ conviction that there are wide horizons for cooperation between them in different fields. It confirmed the existence of opportunities to increase investment and deepen dialogue,” continued Bogdanov.

This cooperation will lead to bolstering cooperation in counter-terrorism and striking armament agreements.

It is natural that the improvement in Russian-Saudi ties will reflect on the discussions aimed at finding solutions to current crises in the Middle East, he said.

Saudi-Russian Military Deals including Air Defense, Anti-Tank Missiles


Moscow — In the framework of boosting the Saudi military capabilities and rehabilitating them with the strongest and latest weapons produced by the world’s major countries, military agreements were signed between Saudi Arabia and Russia during King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s visit to Moscow.

The deals are a culmination of the efforts exerted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, who visited Moscow in 2015 and met with Russian defense minister.

The visit back then was concluded with signing a number of deals, including the activation of the joint committee for military cooperation, based on the discussions of the Saudi-Russian teams to identify aspects of cooperation in the military field.

This follows a number of agreements and the activation of the joint committee for military cooperation and the supply of these specific weapons and their commitment to the localization of technology and manufacturing of these advanced systems.

Moving from an importer of military systems to a factory by holding joint projects with the best international talent and expertise.

The deals included buying S-400 air defense system that works within five minutes to counter air targets, whether they were air crafts or ballistic missiles.

The agreement was announced on Thursday as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted King Salman for talks at the Kremlin.

Along with the S-400 anti-aircraft missiles, Saudi Arabia is also set to buy Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems and multiple rocket launchers under the deal.

The parties will also cooperate in setting a plan to localize the manufacturing and sustainment of parts of the S-400 air defense system.

The two countries also agreed on the production in Saudi Arabia of the Kalashnikov automatic rifle and its ammunition as well as educational and training programs for Saudi nationals.

They signed an agreement to procure the TOS-1A, the AGS-30, and the Kalashnikov AK-103.

These agreements are expected to have tangible economic contributions and create hundreds of direct jobs.

It will also transfer cutting-edge technologies that will act as a catalyst for localizing 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending as targeted by Vision 2030, which was launched by the Saudi Crown Prince.

King Salman Meets with Presidents of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Tatarstan in Moscow

Moscow- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz held on Friday separate talks with President Ramzan Kadyrov of the Chechen Republic, President Yunus-bek Yevkurov of the Republic of Ingushetia and President Rustam Minnikhanov of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The meetings took place at the king’s guest residence in Moscow.

During the audience, aspects of cooperation and ways of enhancing them were discussed.

The meetings were attended by the Saudi delegation accompanying the King, and senior officials.

Saudi Expresses Strong Reservations over Misleading UN Report on Yemen


New York, Jeddah — Saudi Arabia rejected on Friday information and numbers listed in a UN report that blames the Saudi-led coalition for killing or injuring 683 children in Yemen, describing the report as “inaccurate and misleading.”

Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said in a statement that his country exercises the maximum degree of care and precaution to avoid civilian harm.

Also on Friday, sources close to the situation in Yemen said there is evidence provided by the Yemeni National Committee for Investigation proving that Houthi militias falsified the death certificates of children who were claimed dead in the Coalition air strikes.

“There are more than 100 falsified death certificates, which prove that the numbers listed in the UN Secretary General’s annual Children and armed conflict report (CAAC) were inaccurate,” the sources said.

In a press conference held on Friday in New York, the Saudi ambassador said: “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the coalition reaffirm that it is taking important measures to protect civilians during all military operations to end the suffering of the Yemeni people and minimize the humanitarian cost.”

In a report submitted to the UN Security Council on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for its 2016 actions.

The Saudi diplomat said his country had reservations on listing the Arab Coalition in the second section of the UN report concerning the situation of civilians and children in Yemen.

“We reject the inaccurate and misleading information and figures contained in the report that were gathered from biased sources and we express our strong reservation with respect to this information.”

Al Mouallimi blamed the Iran-allied Al Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh for putting civilians at risk, including using children as human shields.

Washington to Provide Saudi Arabia with THAAD Missile Defense

Washington- The US government has approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of the advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system for $15 billion, the State Department said Friday.

“This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” a statement said.

The sale “will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a friendly country,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation agency said in a separate statement.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will be the main US contractors in the sale of the THAAD system.

The THAAD is one of the most capable defensive missile batteries in the US arsenal. Saudi Arabia will become among the first US allies to receive this important missile defense system.

Saudi King: Regional Peace Hinges on Iran Stopping Expansionist Policies

Moscow- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz held talks on Thursday with the Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev, said the Saudi state-owned news agency (SPA).

Immediately after the arrival of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to the venue, he was received by the Russian premier and then, they took memorial pictures.

During the talks, the premier expressed happiness with the historic visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Russia, stressing his country’s keenness to promote and develop joint cooperation between the two countries and push them to a wider perspective, as the Kingdom has the potential to be an important partner of Russia, in various fields.

He praised the constructive discussions that took place between the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Russian President on Thursday and its great role in promoting and developing cooperation between the two countries, across all fields.

“We would like to pay tribute to the fruitful discussions with President Vladimir Putin, in which it was agreed to strengthen cooperation between our two countries, in various fields,” said King Salman in his speech.

“We have stressed the need to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for the Palestinian cause.”

“We also stressed that the achievement of peace and stability in the Gulf region and the Middle East and the crises in Yemen, Syria and others requires Iran to stop its expansionist policies and abide by the principles of good neighborliness, respect for international norms and laws and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”

“Saudi Arabia is living a historic and pivotal stage of comprehensive development and this phase has been translated into Vision 2030,” King Salman added.

“We look forward to the participation of your friendly country in cooperating to implement the programs of this vision in the interest of our common interests.”

“The efforts of our two countries in the field of oil have resulted in a reduction of production agreement, balancing the interests of consumers and producers and we confirm our concern for the stability of the global oil market.”

“In conclusion, we appreciate the warm welcome and good reception of the Russian President, your country and the friendly Russian people and We wish you continued success and prosperity and the Russian people to be more prosperous.”

Later on, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations, means of strengthening and developing them and prospects for cooperation between the two friendly countries.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi top level accompanying delegation and senior Russian officials.

Russia Guest of Honor in Riyadh Book Fair Next March

Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad bin Saleh al-Awwad.

Moscow- To mark the historic visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Russia, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad bin Saleh al-Awwad inaugurated Thursday the activities of the Saudi Cultural Week in Moscow in the presence of Russia’s Minister of Culture Vladimir Midneski, the Saudi media delegation covering the visit, and a group of visitors waiting for the ribbon-cut ceremony.

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Awwad welcomed his Russian counterpart, revealing that revealed that Russia will be a guest of honor in the Riyadh International Book Fair that will be held in March 2018.

Awwad described the King’s visit to Russia as historical, citing that it is the first for a Saudi King to the Russian Federation.

He said this visit by King Salman moves the two countries to an important stage in their relations, describing Russia as a pivotal country not only in the Middle East but also in the whole world.

This visit aims at boosting bilateral relations in the political, economic, commercial, agricultural, military, educational and cultural fields.

Dr. Awwad said that the bilateral relations are characterized by interaction, development and support from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He said culture is one of the essential elements of supporting partnerships between countries, noting that it is what promotes the dissemination of human knowledge and the exchange of experience and expertise among peoples.

“The Kingdom Vision 2030 has established a new springboard for Saudi culture, which is one of the cultural stimuli to man’s development towards wider horizons,” Awwad added.

The vision aims at developing the culture and information sector in the Kingdom to create a cultural industry in the fields of arts, literature, theater and cinema, and to make culture an influential force for human communication.

The Information Minister said that the Ministry of Culture is to participate in the cultural week and an information center to keep pace with this important event, pointing out that this cultural week contains an exhibition of visual arts, which includes a collection of works of art, photographic images and aesthetic sculptures that reflect the creativity and the Saudi artistic movement in the Kingdom.

Folklore shows from the Saudi heritage will take place. “We will also share virtual reality experiences through a 3D video that conveys the visitor to the Kingdom and enables him to see Saudi heritage and tourist sites,” Awwad said.

“Three short Saudi films will be displayed and will highlight the culture, social life and changes witnessed in the Kingdom. We are also keen to provide samples of the popular Saudi cuisine that gives the visitors a chance to learn about the nature of the daily life we live in Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia Dismantles ISIS Cell

A damaged location is seen following a raid by Saudi security forces on an Islamic State cell in Riyadh,

Riyadh- Saudi Arabia said it had dismantled an ISIS cell in a pre-emptive security operation in Riyadh. Two were killed – one suicide bomber blew himself up – and five others were arrested in raids on three locations, the Presidency of State Security said in a statement.

Saudi security forces seized in the operation Kalashnikov rifles, live ammunition, and chemicals used in the manufacture of explosives. An official in the presidency of State Security revealed that the terrorist plot was to target two headquarters of the Ministry of Defense in Riyadh.

According to the statement, the raids targeted three sites belonging to the ISIS cell, one in the neighborhood of Al Rimal east of the city of Riyadh, where a factory to manufacture explosive belts and devices was found. When trapped in the area, a suicide bomber blew himself up with an explosive belt.

“The second location is a residential apartment located in the Nimar neighborhood, west of Riyadh. The security forces killed an armed terrorist in the apartment after he refused to surrender. The safety of all the residents and the armed forces were secured,” added the statement.

It continued, “The third location is a stable for horses located in the neighborhood of Al-Ghanamiya in the suburb of Al-Ha’ir, south of Riyadh. The cell used it for meetings and planning their terrorist activities. The names of the five members of the cell will not be disclosed at the present time. Containers of distilled water, inflammable liquids and heavy iron molds used to assemble explosives were also found.”

The Presidency of State Security stressed that it will defy any terrorist plots with God’s help and with the cooperation of citizens and residents.

Saudi Arabia Signs Deal to Purchase S-400 Air-Defense System


Moscow — Saudi Arabia has agreed to purchase Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, the TOS-1A, the AGS-30 and the Kalashnikov AK-103.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Russia’s state company for exporting military products Rosoboronexport and state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries as well as other agreements.

Under the guidance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the two parties signed these agreements, which are expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military systems industry in Saudi Arabia.

The MoU focuses on localizing the manufacturing and sustainment of advance armament systems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in line with the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

Educational and training programs for Saudi citizens will also take place according to the agreement, to ensure the sustainability and development of the military industries sector in Saudi Arabia.

These agreements are expected to have tangible economic contributions and create hundreds of direct jobs. They will also transfer cutting-edge technologies that will act as a catalyst for localizing 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending as targeted by Vision 2030; which was launched by the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia announced in March establishing a new national company for military industries, Saudi Arabian Military Industries, which represents a significant component of Vision 2030 and a transitional point in the development of military products and services that meet the highest international standards.

The strategic target of the company is to become among the top 25 military industry companies worldwide by 2030 to transform the kingdom into a strong partner in the military sector on the world level.

It is expected to contribute to the GDP with more than QAR14 billion (USD3.733 billion).