Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal addressed a reception in New York yesterday held by the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council in cooperation with the American League of Foreign Policy. He praised the significant role being played by Saudi Arabia in the war on terrorism, and confirmed that the Kingdom, itself a victim of terrorism, is determined to adhere to its noble Islamic values which denounce violence and extremism, while going ahead with its plans for reform and economic development.
Prince Saud noted that Saudi-American relations, which date back to the era of exploration for oil in the Kingdom, have grown into a full economic, political, and strategic partnership. Declaring that businessmen, Saudi and American, can strengthen these relations, he urged clear vision and intensive effort to further enhance mutual confidence and understanding.
In his address, Minister of Finance Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf praised ongoing efforts in the transfer of technology, citing the large number of Saudis who have graduated from U.S. universities and institutes. He stated that the Kingdom’s economic future is very promising, and referred to the flexibility of the Saudi economy, with advances in the non-oil and banking spheres as well as significant growth in the fields of saline water conversion, electric power generation, petrochemical industries, tourism and services. As for oil, he reiterated the Kingdom’s policy of stable prices around U.S. $25 a barrel, and affirmed that problems of price increase are not due to shortage of supply. During a series of crises in 2003, he said, Saudi Arabia had increased its oil production to 10.5 million barrel per day; the Kingdom’s oil reserves amount to 261 billion barrels and there is potential for more exploration. Turning to investment, Dr. Al-Assaf drew attention to opportunities available in the production of natural gas and the mining of phosphates and bauxite.
Meanwhile, Prince Saud met yesterday with Samuel Berger, who was advisor to former U.S. President Bill Clinton; and answered questions on Saudi-U.S. relations, Iraq, and the Middle East, from members of the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal.
[Summary of WSJ interview with Prince Saud]