Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a joint press conference today following Secretary Clinton’s meeting with the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz at his ranch at Rawdhat Khuraim on the outskirts of Riyadh.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal said Secretary Clinton had a long in-depth, comprehensive and frank discussions with King Abdullah as is customary in their meetings. Prince Saud also said that he also had discussions with the secretary that covered vital regional issues and the other international issues of interest to both countries.
Prince Saud noted that this week marks the 65th anniversary of the historic meeting between passing King Abdulaziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia and President Franklin Roosevelt on February 14, 1945. “The two leaders laid the foundation of Saudi-U.S. relations which are based on mutual respect, the promotion of joint interests, and joint efforts to serve the United Nations pursuit for achieving international peace and security,” the foreign minister said.
These principles, Prince Saud said, “have helped our two countries to steadfastly confront all challenges and to take significant steps to consolidate bilateral relations and to move toward a significant strategic stage, according to an institutional framework and through direct contacts between concerned bodies in both countries and signing civil agreements and memos of understanding in all fields of scientific, economic, security, and military cooperation.”
Among the most significant results of this cooperation is the increase of Saudi students in the United States from 3,000 students to about 25,000 during the last few years, an increase in the volume of trade and investment and travel by Saudi and Americans officials and private citizens.
“Together with the advent of businessmen, this has increased the burden of our consular missions who are required to issue more and more visas and who sometimes face media campaigns calling for its expediting and facilitating measures. In this connection, I raised the issue of tightening the travel measures against Saudi nationals. I noticed that the U.S. Government has sympathetic understanding of the Saudi viewpoint and the Saudi concern in this regard, and that the tightening of measures applies to all travelers to the United States and emanates from our keenness to achieve a balance between security measures and respect of civilian freedoms and basic rights.”
On regional and international issue, Prince Saud said the peace process received particular attention and expressed the Kingdom’s appreciation to the U.S. Administration for its prompt movement “to resuscitate the peace process and to treat the major issue of conflict within the framework of the two-state solution” which aims at establishing an independent and viable Palestinian state.
“We also believe that Israeli settlements are illegal and illegitimate. The Kingdom believes in the importance of launching the peace process comprehensively to treat all the main issues of the conflict simultaneously, according to specific terms of reference and a clear-cut time schedule taking into account that the step-by-step policy and the confidence-building policy strategy have failed to accomplish their objectives. This is mostly evidenced by the current Israeli Government’s refusal to resume negotiations starting from the negotiations steps that were taken by the previous government,” Prince Saud said.
The Iranian nuclear issue was also discussed, Prince Saud said, adding that, the Kingdom reiterates its support of the efforts of P-1+5 or the 1+5 group to solve the crisis peacefully and through dialogue. “We also call upon Iran to respond to these efforts to remove regional and international suspicions towards its nuclear program, particularly since the efforts of the group secure or recognize the right of Iran and all the states in the region to peacefully utilize nuclear energy according to the criteria and the measures of the International Atomic Energy Agency and under its surveillance and supervision.”
The foreign minister said the Kingdom also underscores the importance of regional and international efforts focusing on guaranteeing that the Middle East, including the Gulf, remains free of weapons of destruction weapons, particularly nuclear weapons and that such standards be imposed on all countries of the region without exception, including Israeli’s nuclear program. He added that “history testifies that any weapon that enter the region has been used.”
We also discussed the current situation in Yemen and we welcomed the Yemeni Government’s decision to observe a ceasefire in north Yemen. We hope that all parties will abide by this decision in order to make peace and stability prevail in the brotherly country and to direct our efforts towards consolidating Yemeni national unity and achieving the country’s development and prosperity.
Prince Saud said that he and Secretary Clinton also discussed current situation in Yemen and welcoming the Yemeni government's decision to observe a ceasefire in northern Yemen and hoped that all parties will abide by the ceasefire and that both countries will help promote Yemeni national unity, development and prosperity.
On the issue of Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Prince Saud said that in the light of the recent London conference, both stressed the importance of having military efforts accompanied by civilian efforts aimed at helping Afghanistan to develop its infrastructure and to achieve its social and economic development, and to support national reconciliation among those citizens. “This is the only way to save Afghanistan from that state of despair and frustration and insecurity – a state that has been exploited by terrorist organizations to achieve their wishes – objectives”, Prince Saud said. “Our joined security efforts have substantially helped to combat terrorism. These efforts must be continued and intensified to completely eliminate this hateful world phenomenon and to eradicate it completely.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud said, “is determined to continue the policy of combating terrorism in all its security, ideological, and financial aspects. It has actually achieved a considerable amount of success in thwarting several terrorist operations domestically and also in preventing other terrorist operations from being launched from its territory. These achievements have been made thanks to God’s help and the support of all Saudi people, all Saudi citizens who support all these efforts to eradicate this alien type of culture which is alien to the culture of the Saudi people.”
On Iraqi issue, Prince Saud said they hoped that the upcoming elections will achieve the aspirations of the Iraqi people to achieve security, stability, and territorial integrity and to consolidate its national unity on the basis of equality among all Iraqis irrespective of their beliefs and sectarian differences and to protect their country against any foreign intervention in their affairs.