ISTANBUL – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday said he was “pained” to see escalating violence in Gaza, calling for an end to military operations in the besieged cities of the enclave.
Speaking at an inaugural summit of leaders of Gulf and Southeast Asian nations in the capital Riyadh, he said a state of Palestine must be established to “achieve lasting peace” in the Middle East.
“We stress the need to stop military operations and create conditions to achieve a lasting peace that guarantees the establishment of a Palestinian state,” bin Salman said in his address, which was livestreamed in Arabic.
In Riyadh, leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered for their first joint summit since the two blocs established relations in 1990.
“It pains us as we gather to see the escalating violence that Gaza is witnessing today, for which innocent civilians are paying the price,” bin Salam told leaders of the 10-member ASEAN, referrring to two weeks of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since a cross-border raid by Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7.
He added: “We affirm our categorical rejection of the targeting of civilians in any way and under any pretext.”
On Gulf relations with the countries of ASEAN, bin Salman said: “Gulf countries’ exports to ASEAN countries constitute 9% of their total exports.” -AA