Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques discusses with Assad region’s developments, receives phone call from Iran’s Ahmadinejad

Prince Khalid bin Sultan attends conclusion of Saudi-Egyptian military drills

Gulf, British officials discuss cooperation

Major powers warn of tampering with international tribunal

Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Second Deputy Premier and the Minister of Interior received at his office in the Interior Ministry Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait to Saudi Arabia.

At the outset of the meeting, the Second Deputy Premier welcomed the Kuwaiti Ambassador, valuing the efforts of Sheikh Hamad Al-Sabah in enhancing the relations between the two countries.

Issues of common interest between the two countries, especially in regard to the security issue were also exchanged during the meeting.

Prince Naif also received at his office in Riyadh this evening Tom Philips, UK ambassador-designate to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

At the outset of the meeting, Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz welcomed the ambassador, wishing him a good stay in the Kingdom and urged him to work for enhancing relations between the two friendly countries.

The ambassador thanked the Second Deputy Premier for warm welcome and generous hospitality, lauding the security role played by Saudi Arabia in the field of combating terrorism.

During the audience, cordial talks were exchanged and issues of mutual concern between the two countries were reviewed.

The meeting was attended by senior protocol and specialized officials.

Meanwhile, Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General for Military Affairs, concluded Tabuk 2 military exercise in Mubarak Military City in Alexandria with the participation of Saudi Royal Land Forces and units of Egyptian armed forces in the attendance of General Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Defense and Military Manufacturing of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan said Saudi Egyptian joint maneuvers are vital for the security of Arab nation and reassurance of peace in the region.

He confirmed the preparedness of the Saudi Armed Forces, noting that Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General, is keen on the preparedness of the Saudi armed forces and hopes that this matter would become a leading priority of the armed forces.

Over the few coming months, naval and air joint exercises will be held between the forces of our two countries, he added. In response to a question on the western and oriental military doctrines, Prince Khalid bin Sultan denied the existence of such differentiation nowadays. He lauded Egypt's armed forces' 'great history'.

About unifying the concepts of military terminologies, he said an ad hoc Arab committee for this purpose was formed but it is still discussing the matter. However, we are going to work together with our Egyptian counterparts to unify military telecommunications and terminologies, he said, vowing that Tabuk 3 will witness such activity.

He lauded Saudi Egyptian military exchanges, noting that the next exercise would witness high-level and wide-range participation and mountainous maneuvers.

He said he is going to lead the Saudi side at the exercise next year.

For his part, Tantawi confirmed that Tabuk 3 would witness more participation by the forces of the two countries.

He confirmed the necessity of Saudi Egyptian good relations all through.

He added that the two sides would have common training on war in cities.

He urged using the most advanced equipment in defense of the country.

Meanwhile, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received a telephone call from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

During the conversation, the bilateral relations between the two countries and the latest developments at the Islamic, Arab and international arenas were reviewed in addition to the issues of common interest.

On the other hand, the United States plans to sell up to $60 billion worth of military aircraft to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. State Department announced in a move designed to shore up a region overshadowed by Iran.

Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told a news conference the U.S. administration did not anticipate any objections to the sale from Israel, traditionally wary of arms sales to nearby Arab countries.

"We think it will enhance regional security and stability rather than diminish it," Shapiro told a news conference.

The sale, which had been expected, includes 84 new Boeing F-15 aircraft and 70 upgrades of existing Saudi F-15s. It also includes 70 of Boeing's Apache attack helicopters and 36 of its AH-6M Little Birds.

In addition, the deal will include 72 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp.. Shapiro said the total value of the package would not exceed $60 billion, although he emphasized that Saudi Arabia may choose not to exercise all of its purchase options during the program, which will last from 15 to 20 years.

Alexander Vershbow, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said the United States had discussed the matter with Israel, and concluded that it would not undercut Israel's qualitative military edge in the region.

"We have consulted with Israel as this sale has taken shape ... based on what we've heard at high levels, Israel does not object to this sale," he said.

Vershbow and Shapiro both stressed that bolstering Saudi Arabia's own defense capabilities would improve U.S. security in a vital part of the world where fears are growing over Iran's nuclear program.

"This is not solely about Iran," Shapiro said. "It's about helping the Saudis with their legitimate security needs ... they live in a dangerous neighborhood and we are helping them preserve and protect their security."

Vershbow said the sale would improve Saudi Arabia's ability to coordinate with the United States on shared security challenges "so it means we may have to station fewer forces on a continuing basis in the region."

U.S. and international concern about Iran's growing military capability includes advances in a nuclear program the West believes is aimed at developing atomic weapons -- accusations Tehran denies.

The United States has also flagged concern about Iran's growing missile capabilities and has been quietly helping Arab states boost their missile defenses.

That includes the expected sale of the THAAD missile defense system manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp to the United Arab Emirates. Similar talks are underway with Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials are also discussing a possible deal to upgrade Saudi Arabia's navy, which one official estimated could be worth an additional $30 billion.

In London, Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Secretary General of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met at the British Foreign Ministry last week, the GCC-British Ministerial Initiative's Committee headed by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and the participation of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alistair Burt, in the presence of the GCC ambassadors accredited to the United Kingdom, and a number of senior officials of the GCC Secretariat.

At the end of the meeting, Al-Attiyah said that this meeting comes as confirmation of the strong Gulf -British relations, noting that a number of issues was reviewed in various fields including education, trade, energy, investment, health, environment and development, in addition to security issues and political issues of common interest to both sides.

Hague welcomed the available opportunities for upgrading the potentials of bilateral cooperation between Britain and GCC member countries.

In a press release, Hague said the GCC Days exhibition on display in London is set to build more understanding, cooperation and common commercial exchanges between Britain and the GCC states.

He vowed to continue his endeavor to upgrade the British relations with the GCC countries.

He expressed belief that the GCC region possesses huge potentials and a promising future, noting the deep-rooted historical ties binding the two parties.

We are determined to build on these relations, and particularly to work closely to tackle the regional issues, he said, citing the Middle East peace process, combat of nuclear proliferation and enhancing stability in Yemen.

In Riyadh, King Abdullah and President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad of the Syrian Arab Republic held a meeting at the Air Base's Royal Hall this evening.

During the meeting, the two leaders discussed the overall developments at the Arab and Islamic levels and the stance of their countries of these developments, including the Palestinian question.

Talks also dealt with the developments at the international arena as well as prospects of cooperation between the two countries and ways of enhancing them in all fields to serve the interests of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Syria and their peoples.

The meeting was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Syria met to discuss rising tension in Lebanon that threatens to break apart that country's coalition government and spark unrest in one of the most volatile corners of the region.

The two countries back opposing factions in Lebanon and are concerned that a U.N. tribunal's investigation of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could split its shaky governing coalition.

Saudi Arabia was close to Hariri and supports political forces loyal to his son, Saad, who is Lebanon's current prime minister.

Syria, which dominated Lebanon for decades, backs Hezbollah, the powerful militant group that shares power in Lebanon's government.

Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive truck bombing in Beirut in February 2005 that many in Lebanon blamed on Syria. Syria denies involvement.

The official Saudi new agency reported that the talks between President Assad and King Abdullah touched on the tensions over the investigation but gave no details.

The U.N. tribunal is expected to indict Hezbollah members this year, raising concerns of possible violence between the Shiite force and Hariri's allies, most of whom are Sunni.

Last week’s meeting in the Saudi capital reflected growing cooperation between the one-time bitter rivals. The two Mideast power brokers often position themselves on opposite sides of regional issues and conflicts.

In June, the two leaders sought to put the enmity to rest and traveled together to Lebanon to address the rising discord there.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri met in Beirut Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali bin Saeed Awadh Asiri.

During the meeting, they reviewed the current developments at local and regional arenas.