When Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz and US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met on February 14, 1945 aboard the USS Quincy in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, no one probably had a faint idea whether they would actually get along well. After all, they seem not to have much in common. The meeting was just a side trip for Roosevelt, whose main purpose was to meet with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Yalta in the Crimea to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe.
As it would turn out, the first and only meeting between Ibn Saud and Roosevelt had become a defining moment in world history.
“King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt both understood that what was at stake was far more than just the immediate recovery of post-war Europe and Germany,” writes Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington in an opinion article enumerating the bonds that tie the two great nations together.
Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud’s article is part of today’s special supplement in Arab News in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of that historic meeting.
“These two leaders saw this as the time for new alliances and partnerships that would expand existing bilateral relationships, forge new economic ties and create new international institutions that would be essential for global peace and security.
“Both leaders recognized that establishing a sustained and lasting global stability would require new international bonds — and that if the US and Saudi Arabia were to help develop this new approach to global, collective security — both leaders and both nations would need to look beyond their own provincial interests,” the ambassador writes.
Arab News also sat with Roosevelt’s grandson Hall Delano Roosevelt, who has devoted a significant part of his career to promoting US-Saudi partnerships, to share his reflections on that historic meeting.
“It was about creating a relationship and a friendship with this new King, who had just spent quite some time, and resources, and blood, and effort to unite the Arabian Peninsula for the purpose of being a productive part of the world,” he says.
For US Ambassador John Abizaid, since that meeting between Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch and the US president, Washington has been a steady strategic partner of Riyadh, notwithstanding the up and downs in the relationship.
Columnist Oubai Shahbandar, a former Middle East Pentagon analyst, writes that the two nations have managed to overcome a number of obstacles in their bilateral relations over the years because “it is a relationship that has been anchored on common security interests and personal bonds between leaders.”
Arab News writer and columnist Frank Kane writes that “Saudi Aramco has been at the heart of the 75-year-old partnership between the US and the Kingdom.”