U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright left Riyadh today after a brief visit to the Kingdom, during which she was received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and by Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard.
U.S. State Department Spokesman James Rubin, who accompanied Secretary Albright, held a press conference yesterday. Asked about new American proposals on the Middle East peace process, he reported that the current visit has as its aim tackling important issues to pave the way for a blueprint agreement on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on the final situation by mid-February of 2000. These include Jerusalem, border demarcation, water, and refugees.
Referring to Secretary Albright's upcoming visits to Syria and to Palestine, Spokesman Rubin reaffirmed the U.S. administration's belief in the importance of progress on the Syrian-Israeli track. He also stressed Washington's opposition to settlement activity, as undermining the final negotiations.
Turning to Saudi Arabia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Spokesman Rubin quoted Secretary Albright as urging Riyadh not to give up on its aspirations to join on account of the recent developments in Seattle, and reaffirming Washington's support of the Kingdom's application.