Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal today co-chaired the second Ministerial Meeting of the United States-Saudi Arabia Strategic Dialogue. The Strategic Dialogue was established by President George Bush and then-Crown Prince, now King, Abdullah at their summit meeting in Crawford in April 2005. Its first formal meeting was inaugurated by Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Saud in Jeddah in November 2005. The Strategic Dialogue meets every six months, alternating between Saudi Arabia and the United States, to discuss issues of strategic importance to the two countries. The Working Groups meet on a continuous or “as needed” basis to deal with functional issues and provide an institutional framework through which officials from a number of departments and Ministries from both governments work to constructively and comprehensively address a range of issues of importance to both countries.
One of the key objectives of the Strategic Dialogue is to institutionalize relationships across government departments in both countries to ensure that issues are dealt with effectively. This is done through the working groups. At the level of the Strategic Dialogue, senior officials from both governments have the opportunity to assess the overall relationship and to exchange views on strategic matters of importance to both countries, whether these matters are bilateral, regional or international. Since the initiation of the Strategic Dialogue, our two countries have been able to clearly and honestly exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues. The Dialogue has also contributed to educating each other about certain aspects of our respective societies and systems. This has led to better understanding on both sides, which in turn has eased some of the respective concerns we may have had about each other. We look forward to further enhancing our understanding of each other in a manner that serves both our people.
During today’s meetings, the Chairs of the respective Working Groups reported on their activities and discussed their agendas for the next six months.
Both sides agreed that a stable, democratic, unified, pluralistic, and prosperous Iraq is in the interest of all countries, and expressed their hope that the new Iraqi government will work to preserve the unity, identity and territorial integrity of Iraq, and their intent to support the new Iraqi government both politically and economically.
Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Saud reiterated the critical importance of achieving a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the Middle East. They also expressed their opposition to any unilateral steps taken by either side in the dispute that may prejudice final status negotiations or undermine progress toward a two-state solution. Both sides recognize the importance of providing assistance to the Palestinian people, pledge to work to ensure that such assistance is forthcoming and delivered through proper channels, and hope that the Quartet will follow through on its May 9 statement regarding a special mechanism that will be implemented efficiently and in a timely manner, to ensure direct delivery of aid to legitimate recipients.
With regard to Iran, Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Saud expressed their shared concern about the serious threat of nuclear weapons proliferation in the region. Prince Saud reiterated the Gulf Cooperation Council's position that the whole Middle East, including the Gulf region, should be free of all weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons. The United States and Saudi Arabia look to Iran to work with the international community to play a constructive role in the region.
Saudi Arabia is studying positively the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Saud expressed their satisfaction with the second round of the Strategic Dialogue, and both look forward to continuing this important dialogue between the two countries. The next meeting of the Strategic Dialogue will take place in the Kingdom in the Fall of this year.