The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah held wide-ranging talks with US Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the at Al-Yamamah Palace earlier this week.
The talks between King Abdullah and the visiting US senator focused â€œon key bilateral and regional issuesâ€ with a keen desire to strengthen ties and forge common positions to deal with new challenges facing the region and the world at large.
King Abdullah and Lieberman reviewed a number of issues, said an SPA report published yesterday. â€œThe visit of Lieberman, who heads the US Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee responsible for assuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the US federal government, is also said to be some sort of farewell call to Saudi officials,â€ said a reliable source, who preferred to remain anonymous. He was referring to Liebermanâ€™s Senate term ending this year.
The audience with the king was attended by Prince Saud Al-Faisal, minister of foreign affairs; Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, chief of General Intelligence; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of state, member of the Cabinet and commander of the National Guard; Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, deputy minister of foreign affairs; Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the United States; and senior US officials.
The source said Lieberman, who will wrap up his visit to Riyadh today, also met with Prince Salman, minister of defense yesterday. During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries besides exchanging information about regional issues. Lieberman has suggested that Saudi Arabia and Qatar arm Syrian rebels in a bid to stop the bloodbath in Syria.
Lieberman said in a statement a few days ago: â€œIt is time for the Obama administration to acknowledge what is obvious and indisputable in Syria: the Annan plan has failed.â€
Assad has escalated the violence, killing at least 1,000 additional Syrians and displacing thousands more from their homes, said the US senator, adding that â€œchanging the military balance inside Syria requires the United States, in close coordination with our Turkish, Arab and other allies, to provide the Syrian opposition with the help they are pleading for to defend themselves.â€
This can include training and equipping the Syrian opposition with weapons, providing them with tactical intelligence, and using air power to target Assadâ€™s command-and-control and help the Syrian opposition to create safe zones inside Syria, he added.
In early April, Lieberman went on a surprise trip to the Turkish-Syrian border to meet with leaders of the Free Syria Army and visit Syrian refugees who have been under attack by Syrian government forces. At that time also, Lieberman said in a statement that Syrian President Bashar Assad has violated the terms of Kofi Anannâ€™s cease-fire and that the only practical way forward is to arm the Syrian opposition.