Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz held talks yesterday with United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen. At the press conference following the talks, Prince Sultan declared that Saudi Arabia is against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and has been calling for the Middle East in particular to be free of them. Referring to Saudi-American relations as reciprocal and aimed at the service of mutual interests, Prince Sultan expressed appreciation of the decision by the U.S. authorities to extradite Hani Al-Sayegh, who is accused of being involved in the explosion at Al-Khobar. He also pointed out that Washington's positive response to the call of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz for the liberation of Kuwait from the yoke of the Iraqi occupation provided clear evidence for the strength of these relations.
On the issue of Osama Bin Laden, Prince Sultan said he is no longer a Saudi, and seen as one who has betrayed his religion. He expressed the opinion that Bin Laden's presence in Afghanistan was not in that country's best interests.
On the Middle East, Prince Sultan reiterated the Kingdom's inalienable stance in recognizing the rights of the Palestinian people in line with the resolutions adopted by the United Nations.
Concerning the recent visit to Saudi Arabia by Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf, Prince Sultan declared that this was not a political visit, but for the purpose of expressing appreciation of the Kingdom's warm feelings towards the people of Pakistan.
On the issue of allowing expatriates residing in the Kingdom to own property, Prince Sultan stated that the new system is designed to contribute positively to enhancing the pillars of international cooperation in a manner that does not harm Islam. He said that further details of the system would appear in Saudi newspapers.
Asked about the modernization of the Saudi Armed Forces, Prince Sultan said this was not a heavy load on the Kingdom's human and financial capacities. He went on to say that economic talks were not on the agenda of his visit to Washington, but that he and his delegation would take the opportunity of explaining to U.S. officials the nature of the new economic resolutions and systems.