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Thu 3 Oct 2013 10:51 AM

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Saudi cancels UN speech in protest over handling of Syria

Annual General Assembly speech was supposed to have been delivered by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal

Saudi cancels UN speech in protest over handling of Syria
Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani during the UN General Assembly at the United Nations on September 25, 2012 in New York. (AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has cancelled its annual address at the UN General Assembly in an unprecedented move in protest against its handling of major issues in the Muslim world, it was reported.

The snub included the decision by Saudi not to distribute copies of its speech, which was supposed to have been delivered by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal on Tuesday, a diplomatic source quoted by Saudi English daily Arab News said.

“This reflects Saudi Arabia’s displeasure with the way the United Nations handled the Syria crisis and the report of the UN inspectors about the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” the source was quoted as saying.

He said the UN Security Council was focusing on the chemical weapons issue, but ignoring the basic issue of Bashar Assad’s massacre of the country’s people in the past three years.

“Saudi Arabia is not against the united international position, but at the same time, it does not want to support what is happening now at the UN Security Council,” Abdullah Al Mouallimi, a permanent Saudi representative at the UN, said.

“Saudi Arabia used to distribute its speech among participants of the General Assembly if it was not able to deliver it, but this time it decided to cancel the speech altogether.”

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Arab journalist and general manager of Al Arab news channel, told the Arab News that the Saudi move was aimed at putting pressure on the UN to take immediate action to solve pressing issues, especially those related to the Islamic world.

Khashoggi said a number of Muslim countries including Turkey, Malaysia and the UAE had expressed their unhappiness over the UN’s failure to resolve Muslim issues. “This will lead to Muslim countries demanding UN reforms,” he said.

He said the Saudi stand would have a significant impact regionally and internationally because of its position in the Islamic world.

Khashoggi said Saudi Arabia was calling for strong and decisive UN action against Syria, fearing a spillover into neighboring countries including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

“The growing number of refugees will change the demography of Jordan and Lebanon,” he was quoted by Arab News as saying.