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Border fence with Iraq 'not a segregation wall'

Saudi minister says aim is to bolster security and prevent infiltrators from entering country.

  • By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent
  • Published: 00:00 October 5, 2006
  • Gulf News

Riyadh: Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz has emphasised that the border fence, which Saudi Arabia plans to build along its border with Iraq, will not in any way be a segregation wall.

"The fence, which will have electronic sensors, is meant to bolster border security and prevent infiltration across the borders," he told reporters on Tuesday night after attending a function to honour retired Ministry of Interior officials.

Prince Ahmad underscored the importance of protecting the Saudi-Iraqi border in light of the turbulent situation in the region.

"There were agreements with the Iraqi Interior Ministry with regard to the protection of common borders," he said.

Replying to queries as to whether Saudi Arabia had received a list of Saudi detainees in Iraq, he said, "We have not received any such list. We hope that Iraq would hand over the list if any Saudis were included among the detainees."

"The Saudis who return to the kingdom from Iraq will be treated in accordance with the role they played in that country. The treatment of Saudis who were involved in terror activities will differ from the treatment of those who had been there just for peaceful purposes," he added.

Referring to the move to set up a national security court to try terrorists, he said: "We have only Islamic Sharia courts and do not have any state security courts. Those who have been detained under national security charges will be tried by the Sharia courts."

Prince Ahmad said the process of releasing extremists who have renounced their deviant thoughts would continue.

"We think that the number of terrorists who had already been released is bigger than those who are still behind bars," he said.

Asked if Saudi Arabia was far away from terror acts, the minister said, "It is difficult to say that we are far away from terror acts, but we hope terror activities have been remarkably diminished," while expressing hope all those who escaped from Riyadh's Malaz prison would be captured soon.

Prince Ahmad also hoped all remaining Saudis at the US detention centre in Guantanamo would be handed over to the kingdom in the near future.

"We have been following up their cases to get them released, and we will treat them fairly while trying to pinpoint the terrorist activities they might have been involved in," he added.

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