Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 30-31, 2012. While in Riyadh, she met with King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. During their meeting, King Abdullah and Secretary Clinton discussed the situation in Iran and upcoming plans for the P-5+1 meetings with the Iranians. They talked about Syria in advance of the second meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People, which is scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey on April 1, 2012. They also discussed Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, global oil supplies, and reform in the kingdom, including the role of women.
In remarks with Foreign Minister al-Faisal, Secretary Clinton said, "I was delighted...to have the opportunity to visit with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty, King Abdullah. And I want to thank him again, publicly and personally, for his leadership and hospitality. The partnership between our two countries goes back more than six decades, and today we are working together on a wide range of common concerns, both bilaterally and multilaterally."
During her remarks with the Foreign Minister, Secretary Clinton also addressed the situations in Iran and Syria. Secretary Clinton said:
"...I will start with Iran, which continues to threaten its neighbors and undermine regional security, including through its support for the Assad regime's murderous campaign in Syria, threats against the freedom of navigation in the region, and interference in Yemen. The entire world was outraged by reports that Iran was plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States and by allegations of Iranian involvement in recent terrorist attacks in India, Georgia, and Thailand.
"Of course, the most pressing concern is over Iran's nuclear activities. The international community's dual-track approach has dramatically increased pressure on Iran through crippling sanctions and isolation, while at the same time leaving open the door if Iran can show it is serious about responding to these legitimate international concerns. It soon will be clear whether Iran's leaders are prepared to have a serious, credible discussion about their nuclear program, whether they are ready to start building the basis of a resolution to this very serious problem. It is up to Iran's leaders to make the right choice. We will see whether they will intend to do so starting with the P-5+1 negotiations in Istanbul, April 13th-14th. What is certain, however, is that Iran's window to seek and obtain a peaceful resolution will not remain open forever.
"Turning to Syria, tomorrow leaders from more than 60 nations will gather in Istanbul for the second meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People. We heard this week from Kofi Annan, the special representative of both the United Nations and the Arab League, that the Assad regime had accepted his initial six-point plan, which calls for the regime to immediately pull back its forces and silence its heavy weapons, respect daily humanitarian ceasefires, and stop interfering with peaceful demonstrations and international monitoring.
"But the Syrian Government is staying true to form, unfortunately, making a deal and then refusing to implement it. As of today, regime forces continue to shell civilians, lay siege to neighborhoods, and even target places of worship. So today, my fellow ministers and I agreed on the need for the killing to stop immediately and urged the joint special envoy to set a timeline for next steps. We look forward to hearing his views on the way forward when he addresses the Security Council on Monday."
While in Riyadh, Secretary Clinton also attended the First Ministerial Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum. The Secretary said:
"In today's inaugural session of the Strategic Cooperation Forum, I underscored the rock-solid commitment of the United States to the people and nations of the Gulf. And I thanked my colleagues for the GCC's many positive contributions to regional and global security, particularly the GCC's leadership in bringing about a peaceful transition within Yemen. We hope this forum will become a permanent addition to our ongoing bilateral discussions that exist between the United States and each nation that is a member of the GCC. We believe this forum offers opportunities to deepen and further our multilateral cooperation on shared challenges, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and piracy, as well as broader economic and strategic ties."
During her visit, Secretary Clinton met with U.S. Embassy Riyadh staff and their families and thanked them for their work. She acknowledged their efforts to build new bridges of understanding between Americans and Saudis, including among activists, women, human rights advocates, youth leaders, students, and scholars. She congratulated the embassy for reducing visa wait times and advancing trade relations. The Secretary said:
"I also see the difference that you are making in the trade delegations that you arrange that are traveling to the United States, looking to invest in power companies, electronics, and other industries. And they're also bringing new investments back to Saudi Arabia, expanding our bilateral investments now by nearly 30 percent since 2009. And I know that the Ambassador is particularly proud that he personally has led 15 trade delegations to the United States, helping the Obama Administration meet the ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015."
Secretary Clinton concluded her remarks to U.S. Embassy Riyadh staff by saying, "...I know that this is one of the relationships that is really going to determine the quality of life and the future potential for people not only in our two countries, but people everywhere. Thank you all very, very much."