Background Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal

Special Briefing
Senior State Department Official
Waldorf Astoria
New York City
September 20, 2011

Date: 09/20/2011 Description: Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. - State Dept Image

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Good evening, everybody. The Secretary just had an hour and 15 minute meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud, a very rich menu of subjects: Israeli-Palestinian issues, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, internal issues in the kingdom, the GCC and its security, Afghanistan.


SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yemen. Going through them, on the Israeli-Palestinian issues, the Secretary began by thanking the foreign minister for Saudi Arabia’s recent commitment of $200 million to assist the Palestinians. She briefed him on our efforts with the Quartet and others to try to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

On Syria, they shared a common concern about the violence and extreme concern that Asad seems unwilling to listen to his own people.

On Yemen, the foreign minister briefed the Secretary on GCC Secretary-General Zayani’s efforts to broker a compromise between the opposition and the ruling party that’s going to lead to a transfer of power and elections on a timetable to be determined. GCC Secretary Zayani will be here later in the week and will have a chance to brief others on that, including at the GCC meeting on Friday.

QUESTION: Sorry. This is background, right?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: This is background, Senior State Department official. Apologies.

They talked about Bahrain. The Secretary underscored U.S. interest in supporting the king’s reform agenda, and particularly including the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry. And they discussed the importance of getting all Bahrainis working and moving forward on reform. They also talked about internal reform efforts in the kingdom, and particularly the king’s reform agenda with his particular focus on education for all. They also talked – you won’t be surprised – about the role of women.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They talked in general terms about the role of women.

They also compared notes about the negative influence that Iran is having, in Syria, in Bahrain, and throughout the region. In that context, they also discussed Gulf security and the U.S. strong support for strengthening security in the Gulf, and in that context the meeting that we’re going to have on Friday, in the GCC context.

And then the final subject was Afghanistan, and they compared notes on the situation in Afghanistan, particularly after the brutal assassination-suicide of Rabbani, and the way forward there.

That’s what I have for you. Questions?

QUESTION: Thank you. (Laughter.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Excellent. Okay. She has a couple of additional bilateral meetings tonight. It wasn’t clear to me, given how late she was running, whether she’ll have one or she’ll have two. If we can, we will read them out in note form to you later tonight, just a couple of notes, but otherwise I will try to get a briefer tomorrow.

QUESTION: I have a question.


QUESTION: Did the foreign minister warn her about the backlash that an American veto in the Security Council would have for the United States’ standing in the region.


QUESTION: Did she urge the minister to – not put pressure on but kind of try and guide President Abbas away from a confrontation on the Security Council?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I wouldn’t put it that way. I would simply say that they compared notes about how we can both play a strong role in encouraging the parties back to the table.

QUESTION: Does she have any bilats for tonight?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: She was slated to see two African foreign ministers, but again, I think one of them might’ve gotten pushed off because we were running so late. So let me come back to you after I confirm.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Security Council countries?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: One of them was. Let me just come --

QUESTION: One was a southern African country? (Laughter.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: She was going to – she was supposed to be seeing the South African and the Nigerian. Whether she is actually going to be able to see both tonight or whether we’re going to have to reschedule one of them was not clear to me, given how late we were running.

QUESTION: Just one thing.


QUESTION: If you were to email out notes, what’s your guesstimate on what time that would be?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I have no clue because, again, I don’t know when she’s going to get there, when the meeting’s going to start --

QUESTION: Which is the one that might be prompt?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I do not know. They were running and changing schedule as they were running. But we’re off – we’re finished now. Thank you.

PRN: 2011/1553