Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal held talks in Riyadh yesterday with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who left today after an official visit to the Kingdom. After the meeting, in which they discussed bilateral relations as well as the latest Middle East developments, especially in Palestine and Iraq, they held a joint press conference. Declaring that Saudi Arabia and the United States have a deep-rooted relationship, and are allies in the war on terrorism, Prince Saud described as “deep and mutually beneficial” the talks between Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and Secretary Rice.
Prince Saud went on to comment that at their meeting earlier this year in Crawford, Texas, Crown Prince Abdullah and U.S. President George W. Bush had agreed on setting up a committee headed by Secretary Rice and himself, with the mandate of following up and reviewing bilateral relations, adding that the Kingdom is appreciative of U.S. support for its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Secretary Rice expressed thanks to the Saudi government for its continuous support of the Palestinians, and for the openness of the Saudi leadership in discussions on oil, international trade, and the strategies of combating terrorism.
In answer to questions, Prince Saud and Secretary Rice affirmed the cooperation between their two countries in the war on terrorism, and in eliminating Al-Qaeda. Commenting on the success of reforms such as municipal elections and the national dialogue, Secretary Rice referred to the case of the three Saudi reformists who are currently in detention, saying petitioning the government should not be considered a crime; Prince Saud responded by asserting that the three men in question had been jailed for violating the laws of the country and the Saudi government does not interfere in judicial matters.
[See complete transcript of press conference]