Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, met yesterday in Washington DC with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz.
In her speech of welcome, Secretary Albright referred to the “fruitful meetings” Prince Sultan had held earlier this week with President Bill Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, and a number of senior U.S. officials. She also referred to the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States as going back to the historic meeting in 1945 between King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt, and pointed out that the two countries are committed to working for a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. The United States, she said, would like to salute the strong Saudi support of sanctions imposed on Iraq by the UN security council, adding that both countries are concerned to prevent a recurrence of Iraqi threats to its neighbors. In addition, both countries have a common anxiety concerning the attitudes of Iran. She also expressed appreciation of the Kingdom’s support of the Dayton Agreement.
Turning to commercial affairs, Secretary Albright stated that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are partners, and will broaden the scope of their commercial and investment relations. To sum up, she stated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz as under that of his predecessors, is now and always has been an important factor in enhancing the pillars of stability and peace in a region that is of vital strategic importance.
In his reply, Prince Sultan congratulated Secretary Albright on her appointment, describing her as a strong, firm, wise and rational lady. He reiterated that the existing close relations between the Kingdom and the U.S. are the fruit of seeds planted by King Abdul Aziz, adding that it is with determination and sincerity that the great American people have been maintaining their friendly ties with the Kingdom.
Prince Sultan declared that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, believing in a religion of love, harmony and brotherhood, is determined to go ahead in the service of Islam and of peace throughout the world, saying: “What I have heard from President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, and Defense Secretary Cohen, makes me confident that the U.S. is going ahead along the path of its own wise policy ... Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz are fully appreciative of the friendly attitudes of the U.S. towards their country.”
Later, Prince Sultan expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the talks he had held with Secretary Albright, saying: “We reviewed aspects of cooperation between our two friendly countries in the service of the cause of peace.” In answer to media questions, Prince Saud Al-Faisal criticized the stand of the Israeli government in permitting Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, and stated that the issue of investigations pertaining to the explosion in Al-Khobar was not discussed with Secretary Albright.
In a separate development, Saudi Commerce Minister Osama Faqih met with his American counterpart, a spokesman for whom described the meeting as contributing positively to giving an impetus to future economic and commercial negotiations between the Kingdom and the United States.
Meanwhile, on a visit to the House of Representatives yesterday, Prince Sultan met with congress leaders, and reported that they are aware of the Kingdom’s stability and development and view the Kingdom, its leadership and its people, with respect.A U.S. State Department spokesman yesterday described Prince Sultan’s current visit as one of vital importance that provides a good opportunity to stress the significance of Saudi-American relations in the Middle East, and confirmed that the views of the two sides are identical in respect of implementing sanctions imposed on Iraq by the UN Security Council.