KSA, US ‘strategically aligned’

Updated 31 March 2014
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KSA, US ‘strategically aligned’

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama agreed to work closely and remain strategically “aligned” on a range of bilateral and regional issues, said a senior US official in Riyadh on Saturday.
“In his two-hour candid talks with King Abdullah, President Obama underscored how much he values their strategic relationship,” said Johann Schmonsees, a spokesman at the US Embassy.
Obama, who wrapped up his visit on Saturday, also addressed the differences between Riyadh and Washington in his talks with the king over security interests across the Middle East.
The US highlighted the progressively growing relations with the Kingdom in diverse fields — counterterrorism, defense, economy, education, science, health and the environment.
There are more Saudi students in the US now than ever before, with over 80,000 students representing the Kingdom’s future political, business, and social leadership.
“The US has had an important relationship with Saudi Arabia for decades in security, energy, economics and regional security issues. The president wanted to make clear that this continues to be the case,” Johann said.
He said Obama had an “excellent” meeting with King Abdullah lasting more than two hours on Friday night.
“It was an opportunity for the US president to sit down face-to-face with the king and do two things — underscore the importance of bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and talk about some of the key regional issues that affect both of our interests so profoundly,” said Johann.
Before leaving Riyadh, Obama had presented the US State Department’s Women of Courage award to Maha Al-Muneef, a well-known Saudi social worker who was honored for her role in combating domestic violence.
“I am doing this on behalf of Michelle Obama,” said Obama as he presented the award at a brief ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
Al-Muneef is the executive director of the Kingdom’s National Family Safety Program.
Political analyst Khaled Al-Dekhayel said that Saudis and Americans appeared to have “narrowed” their disagreements on Syria and Iran following talks. “But at the same time, the US administration has to satisfy Saudis and other allies in the region, including Turkey and Jordan,” said Al-Dekhayel.
Saudi analyst Abdulaziz Al-Sagr, who heads the UAE-based Gulf Research Center said: “Saudi-US relations have actually become tense due to Washington’s stance on issues in the Middle East, but especially Iran.”
Al-Sagr fears that a possible US withdrawal from the Middle East and a diplomatic overture toward Iran would further fuel Tehran’s regional ambitions.

The US and Saudi Arabia are working together to address a number of critical bilateral and regional issues, including resolving the crisis in Syria, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, launching counterterrorism efforts to combat extremism and supporting negotiations to achieve peace in the Middle East.
A fact sheet released by the White House on Friday recalled and appreciated the Saudi efforts to curb terrorism.
“Saudi Arabia has been a strong US counterterrorism partner, particularly on disrupting Al-Qaeda elements,” said the White House report. “We work closely with Saudi authorities on a range of terrorism issues, including countering terrorist financing.” The report also spoke about the growing cooperation in the defense sector.
It said that US and Saudi defense forces enjoy outstanding partnerships and regularly participate in “joint exercises to advance shared interests in Gulf security.”
“The Kingdom is the largest US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customer, with active and open cases valued at approximately $97 billion, as Saudi forces build capabilities across the full spectrum of regional challenges,” it said.
The report further said the US and Saudi Arabia are currently enhancing partnerships on critical infrastructure and border security.


Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

Updated 26 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia to send Syrians an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid

  • Total relief provided by the Kingdom since the war began now stands at about $1billion
  • Latest package announced by Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir at conference in Brussels

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the people of Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The announcement of the latest aid package was made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on April 25 at an international conference on the future of Syria and the region, held in the Belgian capital Brussels. He pointed out that the meeting comes after the suspected chemical attack in the city of Douma, in eastern Ghouta, which killed dozens of civilians, including women and children.

“The world is facing a regime allied with terrorist militias who believe that spreading atrocities and committing crimes will bring victory to it, and that war crimes are bearing fruit,” said Al-Jubeir. “In addition to bombing civilians with explosive barrels, the policies of starvation and siege, ethnic and sectarian cleansing, and the demographic change of Syrian cities and towns, its use of chemical weapons have shocked the entire world.”

He said that the only acceptable solution to the Syrian crisis is a peaceful political resolution, and that Saudi Arabia has been working to achieve this since the crisis began, while also working with others to end the continuing human tragedy in the war-torn country.

The Kingdom has played a role in unifying the ranks of the Syrian opposition and encouraging them to speak with one voice, he added. After the Riyadh 1 Conference in 2015, Saudi Arabia hosted the Riyadh 2 conference for the Syrian opposition in November 2017, which succeeded in unifying the factions and establishing a negotiating body to take part in the rounds of talks held since then, earning praise from the United Nations.

The foreign minister also reiterated his country’s support for the efforts of the UN secretary-general’s envoy, Stephan de Mistura, to resume negotiations between all sides of the conflict.

“The Kingdom hopes that the agreements endorsed by the international resolutions on the ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to its beneficiaries will be implemented throughout Syria, regardless of their ethnic, religious, sectarian or political affiliations, and calls for the speedy release of detainees and abductees and clarifying the situation of those absent,” said Al-Jubeir. “It also renews its demand to punish individuals and institutions for war crimes and to prevent their impunity.”

He added that the worsening humanitarian crisis affecting refugees inside and outside of Syria should add to the urgency of finding a political solution and resuming the negotiating process as soon as possible.

Since the war began, the Kingdom has taken in about two and a half million Syrians and treats them like its own citizens, Al-Jubeir said, providing them with free health care, work and education. Saudi universities and schools have more than 140,000 Syrian students. He added that Saudi Arabia is also supporting and helping to care for of millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, in coordination with the governments of those countries. The humanitarian assistance provided so far totals about $1 billion.