Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, was received today at Buckingham Palace by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and conveyed to her the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard.
Following the meeting, Prince Sultan said: “I expressed to Her Majesty the wish of the government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to further develop the distinguished relations between the two countries in serving the interests of two friendly peoples. I also expressed to Her Majesty the gratitude of the Kingdom to Great Britain for its positive stance in the liberation of the State of Kuwait”.
Prince Sultan is currently on a two-day official visit to the U.K., accompanied by Prince Faisal Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Prince Faisal Bin Saud Bin Muhammad, Minister of State and Cabinet Minister Dr. Musaid Al-Eiban, Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Al-Mansouri, Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, and other high-ranking officials.
Following a luncheon hosted in his honor by Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, Prince Sultan referred to his meeting with Queen Elizabeth as “very good”. Later, Prince Sultan was received by Prime Minister John Major, who spoke of the existing close and deep-rooted relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom which go back to the meeting between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and King Abdul Aziz in 1945, and noted that his visit to Saudi Arabia in 1994 had provided him with a good opportunity to get acquainted with the great strides in the country’s development. He also referred to the warm reception recently given to Prince Charles at the National Festival for Heritage and Culture at Jenadriyah.
In his reply, Prince Sultan expressed appreciation of the warm reception given to him by British officials, and highlighting the strength, closeness and deep roots of Saudi-British ties, reiterated the concern of Saudi Arabia to go ahead along the path of bilateral relations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he said, is managed by sincere men under the wise leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, and went on to describe the assistance it has extended to other Arab and Islamic countries as well as to international organizations. Prince Sultan then stated: “I wish the British press would take into account accuracy as well as the interests of Great Britain when it publishes articles”, and said Saudi Arabia is ready to receive any sincere journalist who pursues facts and works for the mutual benefit of the two friendly nations, noting that Prince Charles’ visit had yielded positive results, since, he said: “Prince Charles holds fair views towards Islam, which is a religion of love and fraternity.”
Regarding his talks with Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Prince Sultan said they were successful and “covered all areas of benefit to the two friendly countries and peoples”. Prince Sultan and his accompanying delegation also met today with U.K. Defence Secretary Michael Portillo for discussions on matters of mutual concern to the two friendly countries.
Yesterday, there was a meeting with Trade Secretary Ian Lang, who afterwards expressed his pleasure at Prince Sultan’s visit, coming as it does so soon after the visit to the Kingdom by Britain’s Prince Charles, and referred to the discussions as carried out “in the atmosphere of cordiality, friendship and cooperation which characterizes the relations between the two countries.” He went on the say that there is a need for further integration between the Saudi and British economies, and indicated that although British exports to the Kingdom witnessed considerable growth in 1996, there is room for expansion in Saudi exports to the U.K. As for the economic offset program within the Al-Yamamah Agreement, this has yielded successful Saudi-British projects.
An official source dismissed as incorrect the report from Egypt by the Middle East Agency to the effect that the issue of the so-called Saudi opposition based Great Britain had been raised during the meeting of Prince Sultan and British Foreign Secretary Rifkind, calling on the media to pursue accuracy and objectivity in reporting news and to ensure authenticity in attributing sources.