C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 001659
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO NEA/ARP FOR RJACHIM/SRAMESH, DRL FOR
EBARKS-RUGGLES/JLIEBERMAN, AND H FOR JREDDY/JBUTTE-DAHL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2017
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, KDEM, KPAO, SA
SUBJECT: MAJLIS EAGER TO ENGAGE WITH CONGRESS; REQUESTS
REF: A. SEPTEL
B. RIYADH 01416
C. RIYADH 00881
Classified By: Charge D'Affaires Michael Gfoeller for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) PolCouns met with Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative
Council) member Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban recently to
discuss the possible participation of Majlis members in the
new International Visitor Leadership Program for Saudi
regulatory body members, including the Capital Market
Authority, Communication and Information Technology
Commission (CITC), and Food and Drug Administration.
Participants will visit Washington, D.C. in September 2007 to
meet with U.S. regulatory bodies, lobbyists for related
industries, and law school professors who have drafted
regulations. Al-Aiban said that he was "absolutely
interested" and would recommend two Majlis members, probably
from the Finance and CITC committees. Subsequently Al-Aiban
clarified that, in view of their status as Majlis members, it
would be best for Majlis members to participate in a separate
visit. Al-Aiban requested an official Congressional
invitation so that he can proceed with this proposal.
2. (C) PolCouns also raised the possibility of Majlis members
and staff participating in the next meeting of the U.S.-
Saudi Arabia Strategic Dialogue's Human Development Working
Group (septel). Al-Aiban responded enthusiastically to this
idea, but focused on the participation of members - not
staff. He offered that Majlis members would also be
interested in participating in the Economic, Energy, and
Consular Affairs Working Groups, but that it probably would
not be appropriate for them to take part in the
Counterterrorism and Military Affairs Working Groups.
Al-Aiban further suggested that a seventh Congressional
Relations Working Group would be beneficial to both the U.S.
and Saudi Arabia. PolCouns recommended that Al-Aiban follow
up with Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer Al Saud,
Head of the MFA's General Directorate for International
Organizations and the new co-chair of the Strategic Dialogue.
Prince Turki is responsible for selecting participants for
efforts relating to the Strategic Dialogue.
3. (C) As Chair of the K.S.A.- U.S.A. Friendship Committee,
Al-Aiban announced that he is developing a series of exchange
visits to the U.S. Congress because there is a "need for
greater contacts between Congress and the Majlis." He also
confided that Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, who
accompanied Speaker Pelosi in April 2007, may be invited to
take part in the annual Hajj. Citing the current NOPEC
legislation (ref A), Al-Aiban said it is vital to also bring
"non-friends" to Saudi Arabia. In closing, Al-Aiban shared
that he and a small delegation will be traveling to the U.S.
in early October to prepare logistics for the planned visit
of Majlis President Sheikh Dr. Salih bin Humaid in late 2007.
Referring to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's
verbal invitation in April 2007 (ref B) for Humaid to visit
Congress, Al-Aiban requested official invitations from
Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in order
to follow up on that invitation.