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Issue 141 - 04 March 1985



The agreement reached between the PLO leadership and Jordan, on a joint negotiating strategy for Middle East peace has been formally approved by the PLO's Executive Committee. A statement from the 10-member Committee, issued in Tunis, endorsed the 'formula for joint action' agreed at the talks in Amman last month between Yasser Arafat and King Hussein.

Issue 140 - 18 February 1985



The opening public speech by President Reaffan, and the reply by King Fahd, set the tone for the Saudi monarch's five-day official visit to the United States, which began last week. At the welcoming ceremony on the lawn of the White House, President Reagan called on King Fahd to use his 'considerable influence' in the Muslim world to get direct negotiations started between the Arab states and Israel. The President told the King, "I continue to believe that a just and lasting settlement based on United Nations Resolution 242 is within reach.

Issue 139 - 04 February 1985



King Fahd's official visit to the United States, which begins with his arrival in Washington next week, has already aroused intense speculation, debate and comment in America's political capital. Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said, in a statement of them blindingly obvious, "We regard the King as an important friend in the Middle East. We have a continuing interest in Saudi Arabia." He said that Secretary of State Shultz had specifically recommended to President Reagan that the Saudi monarch should be one of the first leaders the President should meet early in his second term.

Issue 138 - 21 January 1985



It has now been confirmed by American officials that King Fahd's proposed visit to the United States is to take place some time next month. It will be the Saudi monarch's first visit in eight years, his last trip to the US was in the spring of 1977 - before the Camp David meetings that produced the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. Where the Middle East is concerned, the pre-Camp David era is political light-years distant from the situation in the region today. Although many of the basic political reference points are still serviceable, the views and attitudes of eight years ago will not have much relevance for either King Fahd or his American hosts.

Issue 137 - 24 December 1984



Pending Arab arms purchases from the United States now form a 'huge backlog' , according to a US State Department official. The US Administration is now engaged in the politically sensitive task of making recommendations for major arms sales to Arab countries, reliable sources in Washington have said. An estimated one billion dollars' worth of foreign military sales is up for approval by the new Congress, including, as one Administration official described it, the 'big ticket' item of the supply of F-15 fighter aircraft for Saudi Arabia.

Issue 136 - 10 December 1984

GCC SUMMIT - Report from Kuwait


"A complete success" is how Shaikh Sabah al Ahmad, Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Information, described the recent Fifth Gulf Co-operation Council Summit in Kuwait. If Shaikh Sabah, the Conference spokesman, was referring to the slick organisational arrangements for the meeting of the six Gulf Heads of State and the elaborate publicity given to the events, then his claim is justified. Apart from these manifestations, however', and a general air of amiable unanimity, the summit produced (in its public pronouncements) little more than reaffirmations and reiterations of the participants' already known and announced political positions.

Issue 135 - 26 November 1984



The European Economic Commission (EEC) opened talks earlier this month with the six member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). A Commission spokesman in Brussels said the talks took place in Bahrain over two days and were aimed at the signing of a co-operation accord. However, the spokesman declined to give an information on the possible content of such an accord, saying it was too early in the negotiations to draw any conclusions.

Issue 134 - 12 November 1984



The weekly cabinet meetings of the Saudi government, the main proceedings of which are faithfully made public, have in the past few months notably concentrated on the kingdom's internal interests. A new tariff of electricity charges, the application of the Civil Retirement Code, government payments to contractors and the provision of copies of the Holy Quran in the rooms of all hotels in the kingdom are among the matters recently dealt with by the Council of Ministers.

Issue 133 - 29 October 1984



Moves by the Soviet Union to improve its relations with the 'moderate' Arab states and, in the Moscow view, ideally with Saudi Arabia, have been unobtrusive but not without progress. Patient Russian diplomacy has brought the kingdom to endorse the Soviet Union's advocacy of an international conference on the overall Middle East problem, and Saudi Arabia now acknowledges that the Russians have a valid role to play in the region.

Issue 132 - 16 October 1984



The political limelight on Arab affairs, is presently centred on the current United -Nations General Assembly in New York, where the Arab delegates are involved in a flurry of diplomatic activity of which the prepared speeches in the debating chamber are only the tip of the political iceberg. Much of the dealing takes place in the UN corridors and meeting rooms of the Assembly building and the working lunches and dinners in the diplomatic missions. One gathering that did not take place was the traditional annual get-together of the Arab delegates, at which the co-ordination of Arab positions on the agenda of the current session is worked out.

Issue 131 - 02 October 1984



Anniversaries are convenient, if 'somewhat arbitrary, points at which to take stock- of current situations and look forward to future prospects and possibilities. This week Saudi Arabia marked on 23 September, the 52nd year of its existence as a modern state in its present shape and form. When, in 1932, the legendary King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud set his seal on the Arabiam of today, it is unlikely that even his breadth of vision encompassed the substance and kinds of role his country would later come to fill.

Issue 130 - 18 September 1984



Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti, who arrived in Saudi Arabia last week, concentrated his talks with Saudi officials on the, possibility of an Italian-led European initiative to mediate in the Iran- Iraq war. The discussions were based on a series of consultations Andreotti carried out during the past six months with interested parties in the Gulf war including the United States, the Soviet' Union and Syria. He has also had talks with representatives of Iran and Iraq,' with whom Italy maintains strong political and economic relations.

Issue 129 - 04 September 1984



The kingdom's defence policy was reviewed at length by Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence and Second Deputy Premier, in a recent press statement released in Riyadh. There seemed no especial reason for the review, and it was not attached to any particular event, although the inauguration of the new King Faisal Naval Base at Jeddah by King Fahd may have prompted the Defence Minister to his statement.

Issue 128 - 21 August 1984



The US State Department has confirmed that America is discussing new arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including the supply of additional air-to-air Sidewinder missiles. However, the Department declined to confirm a 'Washington Post' report that the Saudis had informally requested almost 3,000 Sidewinders at an estimated cost approaching $270m. According to US officials quoted by the paper, the US Administration is 'favourably disposed' towards the missile deal but does not want to submit it to Congress until next year.

Issue 127 - 07 August 1984



INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS to the results of the Israeli elections have been as deeply divided as the result of the polling itself, but on one issue most observers are agreed that the result will bring few benefits to the Arabs.