FOREIGN AFFAIRS – SAUDI ARABIA – 11 November 2003

[The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Jack Straw): Terrorist attacks are designed to disrupt the economies and ordinary life of the countries in which they take place. That is an inevitable consequence of the recent attacks in Saudi Arabia. That said, the Saudi authorities are doing everything they can to detect and deter those terrorists. There is a large expatriate British population in Saudi Arabia, as well as a great number of visitors. Our travel advice is constantly updated. We take it very seriously indeed. It can only be as good as the intelligence we receive, and all the time we have to set a balance between ensuring that, above all, proper warning is given, as we were able to give on 24 October in respect of the information that we had received, while, at the same time, not doing the terrorists' job for them, which is to bring normal life completely to a halt.]

Dr Julian Lewis: I congratulate the Foreign Secretary and his intelligence sources on their timely action. Does he agree that one reason why Saudi Arabia is suffering is the fact that it is now seriously addressing the terrorist problem in its midst? Will he do everything he can to encourage the Saudi authorities not to be deterred by those terrorist responses, because only when the cancer is cut out will it be safe for people to travel to that country and to live in the countries of the Middle East?

[Mr Straw: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he says. I am in absolutely no doubt of the overwhelming determination of the Saudi Government and the Saudi authorities to detect the terrorists who committed those outrages in order to deter others. Significantly, this action has been condemned in unqualified terms by senior religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, which is a message not only to those in Saudi, but across the whole Islamic world.]