U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry Visits Saudi Arabia, Meets with King Abdullah, other Senior Saudi Officials [PHOTOS]
SUSTG.org | Lucien Zeigler | 11.5.13
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday, November 4, 2013, on a trip aimed at shoring up the “special relationship” between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Secretary Kerry met with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adel Al Jubeir, and other officials in Riyadh.
The meeting reportedly lasted more than two hours, and was held at King Abdullah’s palace, according to the New York Times.
In a public statement issued by Prince Saud al Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister said that “[t]he fact of the matter is that the historic relationship between the two countries has always been based on independence, mutual respect, common interest, and constructive cooperation on regional and international issues to serve global peace and security….A true relationship between friends is based on sincerity, candor, and frankness rather than mere courtesy. Within this perspective, it’s only natural that our policies and views might see agreement in some areas and disagreement in others. That’s perfectly normal in any serious relationship that spans a wide range of issues,” according to a State Department press release.
“I’d also like to point out that the Kingdom’s declination of membership in the Security Council in no way, shape, or form amounts to withdrawing from the United Nations,” Prince Saud al Faisal said. “Finally, I’d like to underline the fact that our two friendly countries are extremely busy in dealing with these issues in all seriousness and transparency. There is no room for emotion or anger here, but rather, for policies of common sense and levelheadedness based on mutual trust. That is how we solve any problem.”
According to VOA, U.S. officials traveling with Kerry say Saudi leaders “expressed their disappointment at Washington’s decision to back off bombing Syrian military targets in favor of a plan to remove the country’s chemical weapons.” That sentiment, among other disagreements over regional issues, is what has fueled media speculation that the U.S.-Saudi relationship was weakening.
On Sunday, Secretary Kerry moved to reassure Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies “that the United States will not allow them to be attacked ‘from outside,’ in an apparent warning to Iran,” according to an AP report.
Additionally, the subject of Saudi women driving was brought up by Secretary Kerry. “As for women driving in Saudi Arabia, Kerry said that we are in the United States strive for equality between everyone regardless of differences of gender, race or any other things, but this is an internal matter about which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes a decision,” according to the SPA.
Speaking at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Kerry noted Saudi Arabia’s progress on education, healthcare and more in a statement to embassy employees. “The Saudis particularly are trying to make a transition,” Kerry said. “The King is investing in diversity, he’s investing in education, he’s investing in health care. And as you know, because you live here, there are things that are changing. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. But there’s a transformation taking place throughout the Middle East. And I think that if we can be successful in Egypt, for instance, and if we can get stability and ultimately hopefully peace in a place like Syria, the possibilities are endless…As all of you know because you’re the people dealing with it on a day-to-day basis, we have a lot going on with the Saudis. We do a lot. We do things in military to military. We do counterintelligence. We do agriculture, education, in health. There are a whole bunch of things that we do. So this Embassy and our consulate efforts here in this country are enormously, enormously important. And I want to thank every single one of you.”
[Photos via SPA]