Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz arrived yesterday at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington DC on an official visit to the United States of America. He was welcomed by United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, and U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom Wyche Fowler. In a statement on his arrival, Prince Sultan expressed pleasure at the visit, and spoke of the depth of mutual friendship and respect between the two countries.
Yesterday evening Prince Sultan was guest of honor at a dinner party hosted by Secretary Cohen. Speaking on the occasion, Prince Sultan referred to the great developments in Saudi-American relations, in the spheres of politics, economics, trade, the military and security matters. He described this fruitful cooperation as having its roots in the bilateral ties laid down by King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt, and added that the leaders of the two countries have continued to strengthen the friendship, which is built on mutual respect and aims at the welfare not only of the two peoples, but of humanity as a whole.
Prince Sultan said that his visit, in response to an invitation by Secretary Cohen, is a continuation of consultations and contacts that reflect the deep-rooted and distinguished relations between the two countries and their joint desire to achieve progress on a number of regional and international issues. He declared that now, more than any other time, integrated efforts are required to push ahead the Middle East peace process in order to realize a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region, adding that Saudi Arabia admires the role that has been played and is still being played by U.S. President Bill Clinton. He reiterated that peace can only be realized through implementation of the United Nations Resolutions (242, 338, 425 and 426); recourse to the Madrid conference and the principle of land for peace; enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights, including that to establish their independent state with Al-Quds as its capital; and resumption of negotiations on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks.
Prince Sultan also referred to the tragic situation facing the people of the Republic of Iraq because of the behavior of the Iraqi regime, and its non-compliance with the relevant UN resolutions. In addition, Saudi Arabia promotes a region where peace prevails, free of weapons of mass destruction, and where there is no place for terrorism, whatever its source or reason. All of this is the responsibility of the international community, and it requires intensive efforts to set up effective mechanisms to ensure greater cooperation. In this respect, he said, he wanted to highlight the tolerance of Islam and its tenet prohibiting the killing of human beings, and urged all media personnel to refrain from projecting such behavior on Muslims, and to learn about the true message of Islam, which rejects any act of terrorism.
Referring to the high level of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States, Prince Sultan said that he and Secretary Cohen will work together to consolidate the existing cooperation, and reaffirmed the strength of the special relationship between the two countries that will continue, for the benefit of both peoples and all those who love peace.
In a press statement earlier, Ambassador Prince Bandar described Prince Sultan's visit as a continuation of consultations between the two countries, and said discussions would include review of political, economic and strategic issues on Arab and international affairs, as well as focusing on the interests of the two countries, and promoting the procedures that are under way for the Kingdom to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).