Toronto, Asharq Al-Awsat- The White House announced yesterday that US President Barack Obama would receive King Abdullah Bin-Abdulaziz, the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the delegation accompanying him at the White House today and hold a luncheon banquet in honor of the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in addition to holding detailed negotiations about bilateral relations and the situations in the region.
The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques was due to arrive in Washington yesterday to start his first visit to the United States since President Obama entered the White House.
The White House reported that “the President is looking forward to discussing with King Abdullah the strengthening of bilateral relations in addition to several issues of common concern related to the Gulf’s security, peace in the Middle East, and other regional and international issues.”
The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques met with Obama during the G20 meetings in Canada and the two leaders meet again today at the White House. Senior Saudi and American officials will join the working lunch which Obama will host for King Abdullah before the start of bilateral meetings. It is recalled that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at a bilateral session this afternoon.
Underlining the importance of the visit, a US State Department spokesman said “the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have a strong and broad partnership and a permanent strategy which is built on strong economic and security ties and backed by the ties of businesses and establishments in addition to the exchange between the two peoples.” He added to Asharq Al-Awsat that Riyadh and Washington “have many common regional and international objectives: The need for global financial stability, stability in the oil sector, the common vision of the danger posed by extremism, terror, and proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the importance of achieving the comprehensive peace in the Middle East.”
King Abdullah is expected to raise the Saudi vision of these dossiers with the US President in addition to his meetings with senior US officials during the next two days.
In addition to the political aspect of the visit, there is an interest in the economy and technology fields and the chances of Saudi-American cooperation. The US spokesman said: “The United States cooperated with Saudi Arabia about sciences and technology for a long time and this includes several US technical agencies, academic institutions, and private companies.” These chances increased when the sciences and technology agreement was signed in December 2008, especially the cooperation between the American and Saudi ministries. The spokesman referred to “the increased cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the United States in fields that have priority, including development of businesses and sciences, water cleaning, education systems, and other developments in agriculture, health, and biological technologies.”
There is an American interest in expanding the ties between the two peoples, including increasing the number of Saudi students studying in the United States whose number has reached 20,000. The spokesman said “the ties between our two countries are strong and in the interest of our two governments, two peoples, and the broader international community”, stressing that “we will continue to work together over the issues of common interest while seeking a more integrated global society with the aim of achieving a more prosperous, stable, and safe Middle East.”