By Arab News
By Rashid Hassan
Christopher Henzel, the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Riyadh, reaffirmed on Monday that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US is based on fundamental shared interests including economic prosperity, security and stability.
Speaking at a function to celebrate the 242nd year of the independence of the US on Monday at Quincy House, the official residence of the US ambassador in the Diplomatic Quarter, Henzel said the US strongly supports Saudi Arabia’s ambitious goals.
“As the Saudi Arabian government implements its vision, we believe that both sides will continue to benefit from our unique bilateral relationship, and that partnership will continue to grow,” he said. “The government’s plans for the further development of the Kingdom continue at an impressive rate.”
Welcoming guests including Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, Henzel said, “2017 witnessed remarkable developments in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US, with Riyadh welcoming President Donald Trump on the first stop of his first overseas trip, which brought together 55 heads of state at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit.”
Henzel said security cooperation was one of the key areas of the partnership, both historically and at present.
“Countering violent extremism is a very high priority for both of our governments,” he added.
He went on to stress the strength of the two countries’ economic ties, pointing out that bilateral trade in goods between the US and the Kingdom amounted to $35 billion last year.
“Our two countries have long shared a strong economic relationship, with ties in trade and investment that have created jobs for thousands of Americans and Saudis,” he said.
Saudi citizens and companies hold major investments in the US that employ thousands of Americans. For example, Saudi Aramco now owns the largest refinery in the US states, in Port Arthur, Texas, Henzel explained, adding that US companies are working with Saudi partners on additional investment projects in energy, infrastructure, defense, health care, and many other sector.
Henzel also highlighted the increased cultural exchange over the past year, thanks in part to Vision 2030.
US performance artists including Blue Man Group, Nelly and Toby Keith, have all performed in the Kingdom recently, while events such as Monster Jam made history in the Kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s new initiative to offer more entertainment options to citizens and residents.
Meanwhile, the embassy has sent a number of Saudis to the US on cultural exchanges.
Another important facet of the US-Saudi relationship is cooperation in the field of education, Henzel pointed out.
“Right now, there are roughly 66,000 Saudi students in American universities,” he said.
“The Saudi government is making an incredible investment in the future of its country and I am proud that American higher education is able to play such an important role in that effort.”