Syria military option still viable: Riyadh

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman holds talks with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Thursday. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman holds talks with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Thursday. (SPA)

Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Thursday that a military option in Syria was still viable and support for the opposition fighting to oust President Bashar Assad would continue.

Speaking at a news conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Al-Jubeir said Riyadh was in contact with various Syrian opposition groups about a potential meeting in the Kingdom to unify their position ahead of upcoming peace talks in Vienna.

“The military option is still viable and the support to the Syrian opposition is still continuing,” Al-Jubeir told the news conference.

“If it (the conference) happens, its aim will be to unify the Syrian opposition and help them to come out with one vision so that it can play an active role in the talks to reach a peaceful solution that leads to the removal of Bashar Assad.”

He underlined that Assad has to step down peacefully to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people.

Kurz echoed Saudi concerns over Syria: “Austria expects all parties or groups in Syria to sit together to solve the problem.”

He appreciated Saudi efforts to support refugees and assured the Kingdom of Austrian cooperation over it.

He said in the wake of Paris attacks, the visa system in Europe is being reviewed to check terrorist intrusion and the Schengen visa that covers the majority of European countries is under scrutiny, although it is not going to affect travelers.

About the menace of Daesh, he stressed the need for collective efforts to crush the terror group responsible for Paris attacks.

Answering a question asked by an Austrian reporter about Raif Badawi, Al-Jubeir said: “We respect the legal system of other countries and expect them to respect our legal system based on Shariah, the Islamic law derived from the Holy Qur’an.”

Al-Jubeir explained: “The matter is in the court and our judiciary is not politicized; therefore we must respect the due process of law which will take its own course.”

About Kurz’s visit, Al-Jubeir said: “We discussed bilateral relations and a number of issues of mutual interest including trade besides regional issues. There are about 400 Austrian companies in the Kingdom and we maintain very good trade relations which need to be bolstered.”

Kurz, who will also tour historic sites in the capital, said: “In order to further enhance Saudi-Austrian bond, an university delegation is accompanying me to work together in the academic field with Saudi universities.”


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