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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Sultan
Remarks before their working lunch at the State Department
February 27, 1997, Washington, DC
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am very pleased to welcome His Royal Highness to the State Department. I would also like to welcome our many distinguished guests. During the past few days, Prince Sultan has had very productive meetings with President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and several of my Cabinet colleagues. This morning the Prince and I held a useful meeting of our own, reviewing a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.

The strong relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia dates from the historic meeting between King Abdul Aziz and President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1945. After a summit with Churchill and Stalin, FDR sailed in his cruiser from the Black Sea to the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, in Jeddah, the king boarded an American destroyer and headed up the Red Sea. On the morning of February 14, President Roosevelt greeted King Abdul Aziz at a rendezvous in the Great Bitter Lake just north of the city of Suez.

According to a Cairo newspaper, the contrast between the navy's blue uniforms and the royal party's black robes and red turbans created a "magnificent sight." Thus did the Saudi king and the American president meet to lay the foundation for what has been more than a half-century of magnificent cooperation for the region's security and prosperity.

The United States and Saudi Arabia share a commitment to reaching a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. Our two nations are steadfast in supporting the peacemakers. We are working together to encourage continued progress and to oppose those who would use violence and terror to deter the advent of peace. We are helping the Palestinian people to build a new life in the West Bank and Gaza. And we are cooperating on a range of regional economic and security matters.

The United States applauds Saudi Arabia's strong support for the United Nations Security Council's continuing sanctions against Iraq. Our two nations share an interest in preventing Iraq from ever again threatening its neighbors, either conventionally or through the development of weapons of mass destruction. We also share concerns about Iran. Commercially, our two nations are partners. Over the years, our economic relationship has diversified. Both sides are committed to expanding trade and investment ties even further.

Finally, the United States is grateful for Saudi Arabia's critical assistance for peace in Bosnia, including the implementation of the Dayton Accord. Such cooperation has been the hallmark of our partnership for peace and prosperity across the globe.

Let me again thank His Royal Highness for a very productive week in Washington. Under the leadership of King Fahd and his predecessors, Saudi Arabia has been -- and remains -- a force for stability and peace in a region of vital strategic importance.

With the example of President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz in mind, and I hope without too much pretension, that my colorful outfits and your magnificent robes can also be a symbol of a future magnificent cooperation. I look forward to working with you, Prince Sultan, and your colleagues to lay the groundwork for another 50 years or more of friendship and cooperation between our two great countries. Thank you very much.

DEFENSE MINISTER PRINCE SULTAN (through interpreter): In the name of God, the most merciful and compassionate. Your Excellency, Madam Secretary, Secretary of State of the United States, my warmest congratulations for you, taking the responsibilities of this office during a very difficult time. But we are fully confident that President Clinton's choice of you as a Secretary of State was a choice met well-thought. The President sees in you, Madam Secretary, the strength, the vision, the ability to think and process.

My dear friends, my friend the Secretary of State did not leave me any room to talk about the history of U.S.-Saudi relations. I would like to add only one thing: that the generous Saudi people who believed fully in the approach and the method that was laid down by the late king Abdul Aziz, they believe in that approach, therefore they continue the same approach in their relationship. Also, I would like to mention the great American people, who also believe in the same approach, and they continue their strong friendship in all sincerity with us.

The prestige and the capabilities of the United States leaves no doubt in anybody's mind that the United States is sharing the burden of peace because it is full responsibility and its place in history. And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which believes in the religion of Islam, the religion of love, peace, and tolerance, will always work for these principles and values to dominate all over the world.

What I have heard throughout the week from the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State assured me that American policies will continue through the same path. I would like to say that His Majesty King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdallah, they believe and they feel and they appreciate the strong friendship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States. Therefore, we have to stand together, strongly, in favor of peace and against everyone who tries to impede this peace or destroy it. Thank you very much.

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