Statement of Secretary Lew at a Bilateral Meeting with Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al Assaf

By:  Jack Lew
Date: June 17, 2014
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Many thanks to Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al Assaf for meeting today.

We have met several times in the last two years in Washington and around the world, and I am very appreciative of the opportunity to continue our dialogue here in Saudi Arabia.

During our meeting this morning, I expressed the United States' confidence in our partnership, noted my appreciation for our close collaboration in addressing illicit finance threats, and reiterated the importance of economic cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

That close cooperation is even more important given our shared concerns about developments in Iraq. In our meeting, we discussed the need for Iraqi leaders to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to confront terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The events in Iraq also underscore the importance more broadly of redoubling our efforts to combat the financing of terrorist organizations.

Saudi Arabia has been among our most important partners in combating terrorist financing, and we discussed how we can further enhance our cooperation -- not just against groups operating in Iraq and Syria but also groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and transnational groups such as Hizballah.

Today I had the opportunity to reinforce our commitment to working together to combat these threats and to highlight the strong cooperation we enjoy with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the Ministry's Financial Investigation Unit, and the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency in achieving our mutual goals.

We also continue to work closely with Saudi Arabian authorities as they enhance financial transparency through improvement of their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing controls.

Today we reviewed the outlook for the United States, the region, and the global economy.

In the United States, economic conditions have continued to improve substantially, with our economy in its fifth year of recovery and our private sector creating over 1 million jobs in 2014 alone.

Saudi Arabia plays a key role in the global economy, as the largest Gulf economy and the world's largest oil producer, and we discussed the efforts that the Kingdom has undertaken to diversify its own economy.

Our trade and investment partnership has lasted many years and represents a critical facet of our relationship.

For the past 25 years, the United States has imported more goods from the Kingdom than from any other Gulf country, and Saudi Arabia is a major export market for the United States in the region. We plan to further deepen our economic cooperation and engagement.

We also discussed our coordinated efforts to promote growth and financial stability within the Middle East and North Africa region.

We recognize the benefit of working together to meet the challenges of supporting macroeconomic stability in countries in transition.

We also support the progress that Saudi Arabia has made in providing essential bilateral assistance to Arab countries in transition, especially to Egypt and Yemen.

We commend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in the global economy and its support to the Arab countries in transition. Saudi Arabia and the United States have had a strategic partnership that has lasted for decades and we look forward to continuing to expand our economic cooperation to confront a range of global and economic issues.