January 24, 2022

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud After Their Meeting

11 min read

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Washington, DC

Treaty Room

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, good morning, everyone.  This Strategic Dialogue between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that Prince Faisal and I launched today marks a new era in our relationship.

Ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Al Saud first laid the foundation for our ties 75 years ago, Saudi Arabia has been an important partner in this volatile region.  The relationship between our people has grown since that time, and it’s distinguished today by deep and steady cooperation between our two nations.

Our conversations this morning reflected a mutual willingness to grow not only our security and economic ties, but our whole partnership.

As proof, I have an announcement today.  The United States is preparing to acquire a 26-acre site for a new U.S. embassy in Riyadh.  This project, along with the recent opening of a new consulate in Jeddah and the ongoing construction of a new consulate in Dhahran, represents a U.S. investment of over $1 billion.  Good news, and thank you.

Moving to our talks today, we had thorough conversations on regional security, how to keep both of our people safe.  It’s no secret that Iran’s destabilizing behavior threatens Saudi Arabia’s security and disrupts global commerce.  That’s clear from Iran’s ballistic missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities in the fall of last year, and the frequent, ongoing Houthi bombardment of Saudi territory using rockets, drones, and other lethal technology supplied by the regime in Tehran.

Today we reaffirmed our mutual commitment to countering Iranian malign activity, and the threat it poses to regional security and prosperity, and the security of the American people as well.  The United States supports a robust program of arm sales to Saudi Arabia, a line of effort that helps the Kingdom protect its citizens and sustains American jobs.

I also raised how the Abraham Accords brokered by President Trump contribute greatly to our shared goals for regional peace and security.  They reflect a changing dynamic in the region, one in which countries rightly recognize the need for regional cooperation to counter Iranian influence and generate prosperity.  We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well, and we want to thank them for the assistance they’ve had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far.  We hope, too, that the Kingdom will encourage the Palestinian side to return to dialogue and negotiation with Israel.

Doing so would only add to the Kingdom’s tremendous progress in promoting regional peace and prosperity on many fronts.  Whether transforming the economy and empowering women through its Vision 2030 goals; facilitating negotiations that would bring an end to the Yemeni conflict; or coordinating a global response to COVID-19 pandemic during its leadership of the G20, Saudi Arabia has been a stabilizing force throughout the region.

We’ve also encouraged the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on human rights reforms, including the need to allow free expression and peaceful activism.  We discussed today our concerns about American citizens, and we asked for lifting the travel ban on Dr. Fitaihi.

No matter what issues arise, our two nations will address them in a spirit of candor, partnership, and respect.

And with that, Prince Faisal, I welcome your remarks, and I want to thank the entire Saudi delegation for the work that we’re doing here today as part of the – today as part of this Strategic Dialogue.  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL SAUD:  Good morning.  I would like to thank Secretary Pompeo and our colleagues in the State Department and the rest of the U.S. administration hosting the Saudi-U.S. Strategic Dialogue today.  Today’s meeting is held 75 years after the historic meeting in 1945 between President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Al Saud aboard the USS Quincy that established our enduring partnership.  And today, under the leadership of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and President Trump, we look forward to expand our ties, enhance our institutional cooperation, and elevate our partnership to new heights.

Our meetings today come at a very important time.  Our strong partnership is vital in confronting the forces of extremism and terrorism that threaten our security and prosperity.

We had a very constructive discussion this morning on ways to enhance and build upon the strong bilateral ties between the Kingdom and the United States in all fields, and I look forward to more discussions this afternoon on our joint efforts to enhance regional peace and stability, and to expand our economic and defense cooperation.

We are going to discuss our joint efforts to promote regional stability and security, and address common threats, including the Iranian regime continuing destabilizing behavior.  The Iranian regime continues to provide financial and material support to terrorist groups, including in Yemen where the Houthis have launched more than 300 Iranian-made ballistic missiles and drones towards the Kingdom.  Their development of their nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and their malign activities represent a grave danger to the region and the world.  We are both committed to counter and deter Iran’s destabilizing behavior.

We will also discuss our support for a comprehensive political solution in Yemen, as well as our efforts to address the humanitarian situation.  We’re also very concerned with the aging oil tanker on the Red Sea, the FSO Safer, which the Houthis are refusing to allow full access to, threatening an environmental catastrophe that will irreparably damage Yemen’s coastline and marine life in the region.

The Kingdom, as the president of the G20 this year, will continue its efforts to coordinate the global response to address COVID-19, the COVID-19 pandemic, and its ramifications on the global economy.  And we thank the U.S. support and its leadership in that regard as well.  We will also explore ways to strengthen our strong economic and defense cooperation, which will contribute to cementing our historic partnership in the future while providing jobs and economic opportunities for Saudi and American citizens.

We have a quite comprehensive agenda, and we look forward to a successful and constructive session of our Strategic Dialogue.

Thank you very much.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.  Thank you all for being with us this morning.

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