Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, has urged the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to mobilize international efforts for the protection of the cultural heritage sites in Palestine.
Speaking at the UNESCO headquarters here on Thursday, the Crown Prince lauded the vote by the UNESCO member states offering Palestine a full membership in the organization, noting that the step came in line with the UNESCO values since it was set up in 1946.
The meeting was attended by UNESCO Director-General Arena Bokova and a host of Arab and foreign permanent delegates.
The Crown Prince called on the organization to activate international resolutions to protect the Aqsa Mosque against the Israeli aggression and subversion.
Meanwhile, he praised the organization for its initiatives, especially the celebration of World Arabic Language Day on December 18 every year.
The Crown Prince stressed the Kingdom's firm support to the UNESCO's contribution to peace, stability and dialogue. Referring to the KAICIID Dialogue Centre (King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue), he declared that "respect, tolerance, moderation and rejection of violence are at the heart of Islam.
Saudi Arabia is determined to uphold these values and counter all efforts to defame Islam by associating it with violence and bloodshed." He welcomed the implementation of UNESCO's programs in Saudi Arabia, notably the inscription of three World Heritage sites.
In conclusion, he wished the UNESCO all the best in achieving the objectives of humanity and moral values all over the universe.
For her part, Director-General Irina Bokova thanked Saudi Arabia for its "active contribution" to UNESCO's programs, and highlighted the growing partnership between the Kingdom and the organization. "All religions and all cultures share the same fundamental values," she said. "And if we focus on these values, we will realize that there is more to unite us than there is to divide us." She added that at a time when cultural diversity and religious minorities are under attack in many places of the world, "we must join our voices to affirm that every culture deserves respect and that no belief justifies hatred." During his first visit to the UNESCO headquarters, Prince Salman had talks with the UNESCO chief on boosting cooperation between the Kingdom and the Organziation.