In a letter from US Secretary of Defense James Mattis to Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Mattis expressed his gratitude to the Saudi Arabian leader for his willingness to magnify the importance of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
“Your leadership and candor on this issue reflects not only Saudi Arabia’s efforts to curb terrorism and extremism, but also the strength of our nations’ important strategic partnership,” wrote Mattis.
The letter came on the eve of the International Ulema Conference on Afghanistan Peace and Security, organized by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Saudi Arabia. The two day summit, that started on Tuesday, is being held in Jeddah and Mecca.
A 35-member Ulema delegation from Afghanistan led by head of the Ulema Council, Mawlawi Qayamuddin Kashaf, are attending the conference, along with more than 200 representatives from 57 countries.
The conference is aimed at supporting efforts to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and condemn terrorism and violent extremism in all forms and manifestations within the framework of the teachings of Islam.
In a press release issued by the Saudi government on Sunday, they said: “The conference, which will be attended by leaders of religious scholars in Afghanistan and a select group of Muslim scholars from around the world, is aimed at assisting efforts to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and to condemn terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations within the framework of the teachings of the true Islamic religion.”
The Saudi summit coincides with the NATO Heads of State and Government summit in Brussels this week.
This summit will also look at issues around Afghanistan and it is hoped that heads of state that attend will come out in support of President Ashraf Ghani’s peace initiative and his government’s reforms.