Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, during a press conference yesterday at the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC following a meeting with Arab ambassadors and Saudi students, stated that the purpose of his current visit to the United States was in the service of the Arab and Muslim worlds as well as that of the Kingdom, saying that U.S. officials are fully aware of the religious status of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, towards which two billion Muslims turn in prayer five times each day.
Prince Sultan remarked that during his meetings with both President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore, he felt the great importance they attach to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Prince Sultan went on to say that the dinner party hosted by him in honor of former U.S. President George Bush had provided him with a good opportunity to express his appreciation for the men who had unwaveringly stood beside the Arabs when they faced their ordeal.
Asked whether the issue of Jewish settlements in Jerusalem had been reviewed, Prince Sultan said that he believed President Clinton would adhere to his commitment to the realization of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region, and reiterated the determination of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue its support of the Palestinians.
Earlier yesterday, Prince Sultan met with Vice-President Gore in a working session during which they reviewed issues pertaining to the peace process in the Middle East, and to cooperation in the areas of energy and of trade, taking into account the fact that Saudi Arabia is one of the most important oil-producing countries in the world, and that the U.S. is one of its main commercial partners. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi Ambassador to the Kingdom Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of State and Cabinet Minister Dr. Musaid Al-Eiban, and undersecretary for economic and cultural affairs at the Foreign Ministry Mamoun Kurdi. At the end of the meeting Vice-President Gore extended a message of invitation to Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, to visit Washington DC at a mutually convenient time.
[See joint statement issued after the meeting]
A statement released by the Pentagon yesterday referred to the formal reception for Prince Sultan given by U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and re-stated the existing relations between the two countries in the area of defense, noting that the two officials had discussed in depth the recent arrangements taken to ensure the safety of American military personnel, with Secretary Cohen expressing appreciation for the cooperation shown by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in this regard. As confirmation of their adherence to conducting close consultations, particularly in times of crisis, it was agreed to set up a direct telephone line between their two offices.
The statement went on to say that with the sixth anniversary of the cease fire after the liberation of Kuwait coming up next week, there are still, as in 1991, serious dangers from the existence of chemical weapons. The two countries attach great importance to the treaty on chemical weapons which constitutes the major path to the eradication of such weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Cohen praised the Saudi leadership for its approval of this treaty, making the Kingdom a model for other countries in the region as well as the entire international community. The statement said that Secretary Cohen has accepted an invitation from Prince Sultan to visit the Kingdom at his earliest convenience in order to acquaint himself with the progress attained by the Kingdom for modernization of its armed forces and enhancing its defensive capabilities. He hoped to be able to make a visit to the countries of the Arabian Gulf later this year.