Senior Saudi Arabia officials distanced themselves from the hostile remarks made by Prince Khaled bin Sultan in the last week of February this year.
Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on its official website on April 1, 2013 that:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that while it indicates to some of the statements made about Al-Hadathah [Renaissance] dam and its relations with the friendly Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Ministry wished to emphasize the depth of its historical and distinguished relations with Ethiopia.
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited the fact that Ethiopia had embraced the first migration in Islam.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also emphasized that these relations are based on mutual respect, and non-interference in internal affairs, and work to promote common interests and push them to new horizons in the service of the two governments and their peoples.
At the same time, the Ministry stressed that any other statements issued in this regard does not reflect the official stance of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This statement was reported by Saudi Press Agency. Apparently, a similar news was also reported by Saudi’s Al-Meddina newspaper, though I couldn’t find that one.
Citing the two news outlets, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented last Friday saying:
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry rebuffs criticisms of the Renaissance dam
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Bilateral Affairs, Ambassador Dr. Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Jandan has dismissed statements made criticizing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
In a discussion with Ethiopian diplomats in Riyadh, Dr. Khalid said statements made against the GERD were not the policy of his government. Citing the historic relations of the two countries, going back to the First Hegira when Ethiopia gave refuge to the family of the Prophet and his followers, Dr. Khalid denied recent media reports suggesting statements made against Ethiopia and the GERD might affect relations between the two countries.
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 1st issued a statement on its website which strongly affirmed Saudi Arabia’s close relationship with Ethiopia, emphasizing relations with Ethiopia were based on mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs and work to promote common interests in the service of both governments and their peoples.
The Ministry said any statements suggesting the contrary did not reflect the official stance of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Khalid also emphasized that the ministerial statement reflected the high regard Saudi Arabia gave to bilateral relations with Ethiopia which were, he noted, based on the principles of mutual cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two peoples.
It might be recalled that Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Prince Bin Khalid, made a comment at a Water Ministers’ summit in Cairo earlier this year that GERD might be detrimental to downstream countries, and suggesting Ethiopia’s legitimate development efforts were political machinations intended to harm Sudan and Egypt.
The Ethiopian government strongly rejected the comment and asked for an official explanation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia: An Honest Friend or Pretentious Foe?
Ethiopian Herald| Saudi Prince a ‘wanna-be proxy agent’ [print version]
Official | Ethiopia awaiting Saudi King’s clarifications (inc. Video)
Nile | Saudi Prince suggests military force for water disputes
Check the Ethio-Saudi diplomatic crisis archive for background info.