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Secretary Cohen and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Joint Press Conference

Presenters: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz
October 19, 1999

U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Saudi Minister of Defense and Aviation Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Q: The visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to Saudi Arabia comes less than two weeks before Your Highness is scheduled to visit the United States at the invitation of President Clinton. What is the nature of the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State and what is the agenda of the talks. Did you have identical points of view?

Prince Sultan: First of all, a scheduled visit by the Secretary of Defense is always a visit we welcome. It is the visit of a friend with whom we always cooperate for the benefit of peace and security of the region and for the interests of all our nations. Such visits will be repeated by our side and by their side for the benefit of both nations and for the security of the people of Saudi Arabia and the welfare and service of its citizens.

Q: What are the major points you raised with the U.S. Secretary?

Prince Sultan: There are no major points to list. The points are that it was a friendly meeting during which we reviewed what all of us have already accomplished for the development of our armed forces and for equipping it with the weapons which the Saudi armed forces can use in a positive way for its management, maintenance and modernization. This is a friendly visit to exchange views.

Q: Are you satisfied with the U.S. use of air strikes to contain Iraq? Do you foresee any change in posture in the near future?

Prince Sultan: Firstly, these are resolutions of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and of allied states, and we have no decision or position. We all hope that Iraq complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions for the benefit of Iraq and the Iraqi people.

Q: The U.S. Secretary of Defense, in press remarks, said that...(inaudible)........Hani Al Sayegh? Was this issue raised?

Prince Sultan: (inaudible) . . . Hani Al Sayegh has returned to his country. His family has visited him -- his mother, his wife and his father -- and he is in good condition, and we are all committed to Sharia law.

Q: Did the Kingdom request that the United States help in tracking down the three suspects (in the Al Khobar bombing) whom Prince Na'if announced a few days ago?

Prince Sultan: Never. We and the United States are in full agreement regarding the circumstances surrounding this bombing that harmed the image of Saudi Arabia and which hurt innocent people.

Q: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Cohen, will you tell us about the matters and the subjects you discussed with His Highness, and did you discuss, especially, the presentation [presence] of the American troops and the expenses of this presentation [presence]?

Secretary Cohen: As His Royal Highness has just indicated, we covered many issues - many issues pertaining to security throughout the Gulf region. We spoke of the Middle East peace process. We talked about events in Pakistan. We talked about a wide variety of issues that we share mutual interests in. We did not have any discussions of specific monetary obligations or contributions. We have a very strong security relationship with Saudi Arabia that we intend to continue in the future.

Q: Do you have any same point of view about the development in Pakistan?

Secretary Cohen: We both agree that there should be a return to democratic rule as soon as possible.

Q: Is anybody . . . or has any Gulf official asked the United States to start sharing in expenses of the American presentation [presence] here?

Secretary Cohen: We did not have any discussion dealing with monetary matters. We have again, a mutual security interest. We work very closely. Our forces have trained together, and we recently completed a very important exercise. We look forward to more exercises in the future.

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