Salman and Hagel discuss Syria, Iran

Updated 26 April 2013
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Salman and Hagel discuss Syria, Iran

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, held wide-ranging talks with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel here yesterday focusing on key regional issues including Syria, Iran and Palestine.
A range of bilateral issues were also discussed candidly by the US defense secretary in his meetings, said a source familiar with the US official’s visit, here Tuesday night.
Hagel, who is currently on a weeklong trip to the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, to consult with regional leaders on Syria’s civil war, Iran’s nuclear program and to discuss a set of US arms deals, had two rounds of talks with Prince Salman on Tuesday.
Hagel’s visit coincides with the renewed interest by the US administration to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to review the overall situation in the region.
The talks between Prince Salman and Hagel were attended by a large number of US and Saudi officials, including Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister; Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, the newly-appointed deputy defense minister; Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the US; and James B. Smith, US ambassador. “Crown Prince Salman hosted a dinner in honor of Hagel on Tuesday night,” said the source.
The Kingdom has called for the arming of rebels fighting the regime in Syria but the United States has been willing only to provide “non-military” assistance to the opposition.
Hagel, on his first regional tour since he took office two months ago, will travel to Cairo today and then head for the United Arab Emirates for talks, said the source.
According to a statement from the US Defense Department, Syria is widely expected to dominate the talks with regional leaders. Among the issues to be raised during the meetings between Hagel and Arab leaders and officials will be increased technical support for Syrian opposition forces and a joint US-Jordanian response to Damascus’ potential use of chemical weapons. Hagel has underlined Washington’s steadfast support for regional security in the face of potential spill over from the Syrian crisis and a nuclear Iran.
It was also reported that Hagel is expected to wrap up some $ 10 billion worth of arms deals during his visit to the Middle East. Hagel, in a statement made before leaving Israel for Saudi Arabia, said: “Iran presents a threat with its nuclear program ... Military options, I think most of us feel, should be the last option,” Hagel said. “If that is an option that’s required, then we’ll have to make that decision.
“But I think it’s our sense — the United States and many of our allies — that these other tracks do have some time to continue to try to influence the outcome in Iran,” Hagel said. His agenda also includes Palestine. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Israel recently, has placed new attention on the long-stalemated peace process and the need to strike a deal that would enable Israel and Palestine to exist as separate states, each recognized by its neighbors.


Saudi Arabia witnesses unprecedented achievements one year after MBS became crown prince

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia witnesses unprecedented achievements one year after MBS became crown prince

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030
  • Vision 2030 seeks to make Saudi Arabia non-oil based economy and the large developments at the Red Sea, Qiddiya and, NEOM, are part of the efforts to lure in investors and promote tourism sector.

JEDDAH: June 21 marked one year of Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince of Saudi Arabia.Since assuming the role, the crown prince, fondly known as MBS, has been working for the socioeconomic transformation of the Kingdom.
He is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy of the Kingdom and reduce its dependence on oil income.
Among the reforms envisaged in the Vision 2030 plan are the reopening of cinemas and allowing both sexes to attend concerts.
Another major development is the lifting of a ban on women driving. From June 24, women in Saudi Arabia will be able to take the wheel. The crown prince’s Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce, up from the current 22 percent.
In a statement issued to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that as the architect of Saudi Vision 2030, the crown prince was inspiring the country’s youth and introducing structural changes to the Saudi economy and society.
Al-Othaimeen said that in one year he had taken many important initiatives at the national and international level and reinforced Saudi Arabia’s leading role in defending and supporting issues related to the wider Muslim world.
In this area, the OIC chief said, the most notable achievement was the creation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.
Vision 2030 seeks to boost the Saudi non-oil based economy, and the large developments at the Red Sea, Qiddiya and NEOM, the futuristic mega city, are part of efforts to attract investors and promote the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
Saudi Minister of Telecommunications and IT Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha said that the Kingdom is geared up to achieve the goals of socioeconomic transformation as envisaged in Vision 2030. He said that during the last year Saudi Arabia had achieved great success in this ambition.
Civil Services Minister Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan said that last year was characterized by many achievements. The Kingdom, he said, witnessed the continuation of the successful implementation of the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which covers all aspects of life.
Saudi Education Minister Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa said: “Our country is looking forward to a bright future in line with an ambitious vision. It is standing at the threshold of great transformation.”
Saudi Arabia has also witnessed several unprecedented developments since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began implementing his reform plans. In a bid to ensure transparency in the financial system to promote international investments, the Kingdom launched a drive to root out corruption from society without discrimination.
Saudi Justice Minister Dr. Waleed bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, who is also president of the Supreme Judicial Council, said that the crown prince is a leader whose impact has surpassed local and regional levels. He has emerged as one of the most influential figures at the global level, he said.
Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Abdulatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ashiekh said: “The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is a comprehensive national development program that seeks to achieve prosperity for the country. The crown prince has worked very hard to achieve many goals in record time.
“The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has received a great deal of support and attention from the crown prince to help fight extremist and deviant ideologies.”
The minister said that these efforts come within the framework of Vision 2030 to eradicate all sources of corruption.
MBS’s history of philanthropic initiatives has earned him many awards. In 2011, he established the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk), which enables young Saudis to learn, develop and progress in the fields of business, literature, culture, science and technology, and sociology.
“The crown prince’s initiatives in relief and humanitarian work have been admired and praised by the UN and its related organizations,” said Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) and an adviser to the royal court.
Al-Rabeeah said that the crown prince had allocated $66.7 million to fight the cholera epidemic in Yemen, in addition to his efforts to help the needy throughout the world without discrimination.
He said that the crown prince had worked hard to build a new phase of progress and prosperity for the country with the help of the youth who are the core of the Kingdom’s future.
In recent years, the crown prince has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. In a country where about 60 percent of the population is under 30, the young crown prince is widely seen as an icon in the push toward socioeconomic reforms.
The crown prince also heads the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which aims to establish a seamless mechanism to achieve Vision 2030 goals.