Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation, and Inspector-General, said yesterday that he had conveyed to U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton, on his re-election for a second term, the greetings and congratulations of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard. Prince Sultan was received at the White House yesterday morning by President Clinton at a meeting also attended by Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz.
Later, Prince Sultan and U.S. Vice-President Al Gore co-chaired a meeting at the White House which was attended by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Ambassador Prince Bandar on the Saudi side, and Defense Secretary William Cohen and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili on the American side, as well as others in the accompanying delegations.
At a press conference yesterday, Prince Sultan was asked whether he had discussed with President Clinton the issue of the Al-Khobar explosion. He replied that the two sides have agreed on the procedures being taken by the Kingdom in this connection, adding that they had also exchanged views on the peace process in the Middle East and the importance of Washington’s support of the UN and the Security Council resolutions. He also remarked on President Clinton’s efforts towards realizing a just and comprehensive peace in the region.
Concerning security in the Arabian Gulf area, Prince Sultan stated that the Arab Gulf countries are secure and stable, adding that anyone who is skeptical about this is advised to visit them and become acquainted with the security and stability that prevails.
Asked whether he had discussed Iraq with President Clinton, Prince Sultan stated that the resolutions of the Security Council in this regard should be carried out so as to enable the persecuted Iraqi people to enjoy the bounty of security and stability as well as to live honorable lives like people of other Arab states. Prince Sultan ruled out the possibility of any change in U.S. policy concerning the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf regions during the second term of Clinton’s Presidency. As for Saudi plans to purchase U.S. planes, Prince Sultan emphasized that his current visit does not aim at signing any military deals.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the White House yesterday released a statement that the meeting of President Clinton and Prince Sultan constitutes a new chapter in the deep-rooted relations between the two countries based on the principles of mutual respect and cooperation, reflects their determination to continue to work for the realization of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East as well as the importance of the existing close bilateral relations, and emphasizes their concern to broaden the scope of economic and commercial ties in the service of their mutual interests.
The spokesman said that President Clinton has informed Prince Sultan that Washington will go ahead in its efforts to enhance the pillars of security and stability in the Arabian Gulf region and moreover it will work along with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to counter any foreign threat directed to their interests, adding that the two sides also reviewed aspects of cooperation in the area of combating terrorism.
The spokesman also referred to yesterday’s meeting between Prince Sultan and Vice-President Al Gore when issues of mutual interest were addressed, particularly those pertaining to environmental, energy, economic and commercial affairs. The two countries look to further enhance and broaden their cooperation in the field of joint investment projects. The spokesman said that the U.S. will support the Kingdom’s application for membership in the World Trade Organization.
Prince Sultan will confer with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen on Wednesday at the Pentagon. He will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Thursday. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal will also hold talks with Secretary Albright. Commerce Minister Osama Faqih, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, and Deputy Finance Minister Dr. Jobarah Al-Suraisry will hold talks with their U.S. counterparts during this week.