U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld left Riyadh this morning after a brief visit to the Kingdom, where he was received yesterday by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz and by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. He also met with Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who addressed the reception by highlighting the deep-rooted friendly relations that exist between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States. These relations, he said, date back to the time of King Abdulaziz and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He went on to comment that Saudi Arabia, with the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah and the Holy Mosque in Makkah towards which Muslims worldwide turn in prayer five times a day, is a sacred land, assigned to serve Muslims and to respect the other heavenly religions preached by the Prophets Moses and Jesus.
Following the meeting, Prince Sultan reiterated Saudi Arabia's determination to combat terrorists and criminals in any part of the world, and stressed that the Kingdom does not tolerate extending support to these "misguided elements". He denied that his discussion with Secretary Rumsfeld had covered any such support, and criticized inaccurate reports published by certain newspapers. He also denied that they had reviewed the issue of launching attacks on the Taleban. Concerning the material evidence against bin Ladin and the Qa'eda network, he declared that bin Ladin had shown himself to be a terrorist and a criminal, and stressed that he is not a Saudi citizen and does not represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.