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Reema bint Bandar to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia is Washington’s Closest Partner in Region

Reema bint Bandar to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia is Washington’s Closest Partner in Region

Monday, 17 February, 2020 - 08:00
Saudi Ambassador to the United States Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan. (Reuters)
Washington – Heba al-Qodsi and Muath al-Amri

Saudi Ambassador to the United States Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan stressed that the Kingdom is Washington’s closest partner in the region.

In her first interview with an Arab newspaper since assuming her position in Washington, she told Asharq Al-Awsat that the strategic Saudi-American partnership is not affected by which party the president of the White House belongs to.

The Saudi-American partnership has been solid since the time of the founder, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, and until this very day, under Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, she added.

The 75-year partnership is based on joint strategic interests and goals, starting with establishing peace and stability in the region and consolidating economic cooperation, she stated.

These goals still stand despite all changes and have become even more important with the changes taking place in the region, the ambassador went on to say.

Despite some challenges, the partnership was able to overcome them due to the historic ties that bind Riyadh and Washington, stressed Princess Reema. Their common goals are important and vital, not just to the two countries, but the security and stability of the region and world.

Commenting on whether the partnership will be affected by China’s rise as a global economic force and the reigniting of the Russian-American rivalry, she remarked that Saudi-American ties had witnessed several major tumults in the global system, such as confronting the Soviet expansion.

She also cited the various oil crises, Gulf war, rise of terrorist groups and others. The partnership has demonstrated its resilience against all challenges it has confronted and underscored the close stances Saudi Arabia and the United States share on various international affairs.

Furthermore, Princess Reema stressed that the partnership prioritizes achieving joint security, political and economic goals, which allows these relations to rise to new levels. She cited the cultural and social rapprochement between the very different Saudi and American cultures, in spite of the geographic distance between them. The growing relationship between the two peoples is helping achieve joint strategic goals and interests.

Princess Reema added that despite the global changes, historic facts have demonstrated that Saudi Arabia is the United States’ closest partner in the region. This relationship is not based on negative factors, but the two countries support boosting their positive ties and alliances with other regional and global powers to support regional and global stability.

When Saudi Arabia began implementing its Vision 2030, it opened its doors to the world to take part in its vision, she told Asharq Al-Awsat. The US still boasts the lion’s share in contributions to achieving this vision.

Despite the harmony in relations, it is very normal for some differences in opinion to arise over US foreign policy between the administration and Congress and between the Senate and Democrats and Republicans, said the ambassador. Saudi-American relations, however, are not affected by successive administrations that are dominated by either of the American parties.

She explained how the relationship was first established by US President Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, and continues to this day with President Donald Trump, a Republican.

She added that her role as an ambassador demands that she have contacts with officials and sides regardless of their partisan affiliations in order to deliver Saudi Arabia’s position and that she work through all possible means to boost the relationship and achieve the greatest amount of common goals.

On recent political and media campaigns against Saudi Arabia, Princess Reema stressed that the Kingdom’s stances and policies have been firm and balanced on a number of issues it is facing. The Kingdom’s stances, role and efforts in various fields are much too great to be eliminated or undermined by some statements here and there.

The observers and critics who are aware of Saudi Arabia’s role in various fields, such as combating terrorism, stabilizing the region and preserving the balance in the oil market, realize the importance of the Kingdom’s role on the international scene and how pivotal the Saudi-American relationship is for both sides, she noted.

She lamented calls by some parties for a revision of Saudi-American ties, saying they are unaware of Saudi Arabia’s efforts. She revealed that she is constantly seeking to meet with different American segments in order to deliver the real message and truth.

She said that she approaches relations with the US from a comprehensive position that goes beyond politics and security affairs to encompass cooperation in all fields. This is especially significant as the Kingdom continues to implement its ambitious Vision 2030 that was unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

The ambassador said Riyadh was looking forward to more opportunities of cooperation with Washington in economic, educational and cultural fields to achieve the goals of the vision.

The greatest challenge Saudi Arabia is facing in the US is the stereotypical image that some sides still have of the Kingdom, she lamented. But even this image is being broken down in the US and in different parts of the world as the Kingdom continues along the path of its Vision 2030.

For example, she added, that the Kingdom started issuing tourist visas, with more than 200,000 being granted to people from all over the world. This has helped change the stereotype. As an ambassador, she said she invites people to visit Saudi Arabia and witness first-hand the progress it is achieving and meet the generous Saudi people.

As for the futures of the Saudi-American partnership, Princess Reema said it will continue to achieve strategic goals and serve Saudi Arabia and the United States’ joint interests. She said the Kingdom’s founder and Roosevelt were brought together by common principles, despite the vast geographic and cultural distance between them. These principles are based on justice and the right for peoples to live in security, stability and sustainable development.

On her efforts to boost the image of Saudi women inside the US, the ambassador said Saudi women have recently achieved several of their dreams and hopes, some they have sought for a long time. The mission to empower women will continue with the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed, Princess Reema vowed.

She expressed her pride in the drive to empower women in the Kingdom, saying she was confident that the environment created by Vision 2030 will allow women to rise to new heights to rival their peers all over the world. She noted that Saudi Arabia’s ranking as the top reformer and improver among 190 economies in the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2020 report, was a testament to efforts aimed at empowering women.

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