U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and his accompanying delegation left Riyadh today after a one-day visit to the Kingdom. During his visit, he was received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, and met with Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, and other senior officials.
In a speech on the occasion Prince Sultan referred to the close relations established by King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt that continue to this day in the service of peace and brotherhood among nations. At a press conference later, Prince Sultan reported that his talks with Secretary Cohen had covered bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest. In answer to a question on missiles, he denied that there had been any discussion of such matters. He said the Kingdom and the U.S. expressed approval of the role of mediation being undertaken by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, for the containment of the dispute between Syria and Turkey, and recalled King Fahd's statement yesterday when he met with Secretary Cohen, that the Kingdom's concern is always the containment of disputes through political dialogue and avoidance of military solutions.
Secretary Cohen, describing Saudi-American relations as deep-rooted and strong, remarked that to be successful the process of diplomacy needs to have military backing. On his talks with Prince Sultan concerning the Syrian-Turkish dispute, he said the U.S. appreciates King Fahd's efforts to have the dispute settled peacefully, and pointed out that U.S. President Bill Clinton had urged the two countries to avoid military confrontation. Concerning the Middle East peace process, Secretary Cohen said that significant progress had been attained in this respect within the last few weeks, and that the forthcoming summit conference in the United States between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to yield positive results.