Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told Britain’s Financial Times business daily in an interview published on Tuesday that the kingdom had found a set of general principles for an agreement, but was awaiting a response from both sides before working out the details.
“Now it’s in the hands of both countries and they will let us know,” he was quoted as saying.
The prince said Saudi Arabia was not seeking a compromise on the United Nations investigation, which has implicated top Syrian officials in the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, last February.
“This has nothing to do with the investigation. We are as anxious as anyone to find out who the perpetrators are and we want them to be found quickly,” Prince Saud said.
The United Nations wants to interview Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, over his alleged role in the murder.
Avoiding direct comment, Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia had urged Syria to co-operate with the UN investigation “without reservations”.
Last month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution endorsing a six-month extension of the inquiry and renewing its call for Syria’s full co-operation with the investigation.
“We have enough problems as it is. Its about time we resolve the ones we have – Palestine, Iraq – instead of establish more”
Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi foreign minister
Prince Saud told the FT that the principles were merely designed to lead towards negotiations between Beirut and Damascus on the details of an agreement.
The prince said Saudi Arabia’s priority was to ease tensions between the two countries and prevent more unrest in the Middle East.
“We have enough problems as it is. It’s about time we resolve the ones we have – Palestine, Iraq – instead of establishing more.”
Al-Hariri’s death sparked popular protests against Syria’s domination of Lebanon, leading to the departure of thousands of Syrian troops in April after a 29-year presence.
Other critics of Syria have since been murdered, including Jebran Tueni, an MP and press magnate who was a victim of a car bombing in December.
Saudi Arabia has traditionally had strong ties with Syria, although they were shaken by the killing of al-Hariri, who had dual Saudi-Lebanese nationality.