United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen left Jeddah today after a short visit to the Kingdom. During his visit he was received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, to whom he conveyed greetings from U.S. President Bill Clinton. He also met with Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, and with Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz.
At a press conference following his meeting with Secretary Cohen, Prince Sultan attested to the fact of the presence of American troops in the Kingdom after the end of the Gulf War as being within the framework of the United Nations. These troops, he said, are assigned the task of monitoring the air space over the southern part of Iraq adjacent to Kuwait and the border with Saudi Arabia.
In reply to a question on human rights in the Kingdom, Prince Sultan declared that it is Islamic shariah [Law] that is the greatest preserver of human rights, and that Saudi Arabia, as an Islamic country, believes in human rights as specified in that Law. Moreover, he said, the Basic Law of Governance and the system of the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) constitute a mechanism that serves both citizens and expatriates and preserves their rights.
Referring to the forces of the Peninsula (Al-Jazirah) Shield, he said that procedures are being taken jointly by all the Gulf countries to enhance this organization, which is progressing well in the service of peace and Islam.
Asked to comment on urging Iraq to accept the inspection committee, Prince Sultan said: "We can only pray to God that the Iraqi leader will accept the United Nations Security Council resolution in order to save his people from their sufferings."
Referring to Secretary Cohen's visit, Prince Sultan welcomed it, and remarked that the two countries had long been in harmony and committed to human rights and security for all mankind. He recalled the talks between King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud and then U.S. President Roosevelt, both of whom were international leaders adhering to what was prescribed by the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Qur'an, and by the prophets Jesus and Moses in the Bible and the Torah. He added: "We believe in the religions which advocate human rights and the treatment of human beings with fairness and justice." Asserting that the Kingdom's policy is to adhere to Islamic shariah [Law], he declared: "We regard the policy of the United States of America as one that follows the recommendations of the Torah and the Bible in serving humanity and justice in society."
Prince Sultan went on to say that relations at all levels between the United States and Saudi Arabia are based on the best of principles for the service of the American and Saudi peoples, and for the benefit of all peace-loving peoples.