US and Saudi Arabia: A rich history and productive future

US and Saudi Arabia: A rich history and productive future

As I look forward to the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the US, I reflect on the rich history of the US-Saudi relationship. Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1940, the US and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed an enduring friendship and productive partnership that spans over 75 years, 14 presidents, and seven Saudi monarchs.
The world has changed tremendously since 1940 and our partnership has grown with these changes. Initially focused on energy and security, our bilateral relations have evolved to address a broad range of shared national interests. The relationship today continues to develop as our two countries strengthen the bonds that will carry us well into the 21st century.
Saudi Arabia has served as an essential partner in maintaining stability in the Middle East. A safe and secure Saudi Arabia is key to peace and stability in a region that is important to the economy of the entire world. That is why we stand with Saudi partners against forces that threaten the region.
President Donald Trump has expressed US concerns about malign Iranian behavior that aims to undermine security in the Middle East. The US is focused on neutralizing Iran’s destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants. We work closely with Saudi Arabia and our other regional partners to condemn Iran’s violations of UN Security Council resolutions and its actions against regional peace and security. Should Iran succeed in expanding its influence, the region would witness more ballistic missiles in the hands of dangerous groups, increased violent extremism and terrorism, greater threats to navigation — particularly in the Gulf — destructive cyber-attacks, and other consequences that would undermine the security of the region. We are working closely with Saudi Arabia and the international community to make sure this doesn’t happen.

A safe and secure Kingdom is key to peace and stability in a region that is important to the economy of the entire world.

Christopher Henzel

The US understands the seriousness of the Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia’s southern border and is committed to helping the Kingdom protect its borders and ensure the safety of Saudi citizens.
We are also responding to Saudi requests for advice on how better to prevent civilian casualties in this conflict. Civilian casualties are unacceptable; governments are responsible for thoroughly investigating these incidents when they occur and preventing them in the future. The only certain way to end civilian casualties is to end the fighting. The US continues to support efforts to find a political approach that will end the armed conflict in Yemen and also addresses Saudi Arabia’s security concerns. Newly-appointed Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths will carry forward the work done by the UN to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. We must all support and work with him.
In the meantime, the US and Saudi Arabia continue to address the humanitarian tragedy in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has made progress in increasing avenues through which humanitarian assistance can reach the Yemeni people. Along with others in the international community, the US and Saudi Arabia can make progress toward establishing a safer, more secure Yemen.
It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia is changing. I am encouraged by the reforms I have witnessed during my time in Saudi Arabia. I applaud King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed for their leadership in moving the Kingdom toward goals set out in the Vision 2030 plan. Through their leadership, Saudi Arabia has seen the continued development of the Saudi economy, more rights for women, and progress toward greater economic prosperity. An economically diversified and prosperous Saudi Arabia is in the national interests of both of our countries, and the US government and private sector are making meaningful contributions toward the success of Vision 2030. Saudi Arabia aims to be an example of how a country can reform and adapt while honoring its traditions and values. This should be commended and watched closely by the rest of the world, as many of us will learn from this great transformational period in Saudi Arabia’s history.
Looking toward the future, I am optimistic the US and the Kingdom will continue to expand and develop our relationship. Crown Prince Mohammed’s visit to the US provides an important opportunity to solidify our mutual commitments and to find new areas of cooperation.
I am confident President Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed will enjoy open and candid discussions on a variety of issues that mark the maturity of the friendship shared by the US and Saudi Arabia. I also look forward to building upon the achievements of the visit to further enhance our historically strong bilateral relationship. I welcome Crown Prince Mohammed to the US and wish him a pleasant and productive visit.
 
  • Christopher Henzel is the charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
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