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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 092-97
February 26, 1997

UNITED STATES - SAUDI ARABIA JOINT STATEMENT

His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation, and Inspector General, and his delegation was received at the Pentagon today by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen for in- depth discussions of bilateral security relations and other matters. Prince Sultan was accorded a full honors parade and inspected the honor guard upon his arrival.

In their talks, the two ministers reaffirmed the close ties in the defense area that have characterized the relationship between their two countries for many years. The two ministers discussed in detail the arrangements that have been made in recent months to improve the security and safety of American military personnel, and Secretary Cohen praised the support and cooperation given in this regard by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi minister confirmed the Kingdom's continued commitment.

As evidence of the close security ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the two ministers reaffirmed their commitment to close consultations, especially in time of crisis, and agreed to establish a Direct Telephone Link for secure communications between their respective offices.

The ministers noted the sixth anniversary of the cease-fire ending the Gulf War which will be commemorated this week. In this regard, they noted the findings stemming from United Nations Security Council-directed inspections that confirmed the grave risks from chemical weapons that were faced by the Coalition forces that liberated Kuwait in 1991. The importance that both countries place on the Chemical Weapons Convention as the principal means to eliminate this form of weapons of mass destruction was confirmed. Secretary Cohen praised the leadership of the Kingdom in having already ratified the Convention and set an example for the region and the entire international community.

His Royal Highness invited Secretary Cohen to visit the Kingdom at his earliest convenience to see for himself the progress made by Saudi Arabia in modernizing its military forces for the defense of the country. Secretary Cohen accepted the invitation and hopes to travel to the Gulf later this year, when he will also visit U.S. military forces and review recent force protection initiatives.

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