June 20, 2012

Panetta to lead presidential delegation to Saudi Arabia

by SFC Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will lead a delegation representing the United States to offer its sympathies to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the death of Crown Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, the White House announced June 19.

“President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a presidential delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to offer condolences to the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, on the passing of HRH Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, crown prince and deputy premier and minister of interior,” the statement said.

Panetta issued a statement saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the crown prince’s passing, and that during his nearly four decades as interior minister, Crown Prince Nayif “worked tirelessly for the protection of the Kingdom and the Saudi people. His visionary leadership and courage were instrumental to the gains we have made together against terrorism and extremism, and helped save Saudi and American lives.”

Panetta said he would “express the condolences of the American people on this loss, reaffirm my commitment to our stong security partnership, and express my hope that this partnership will endure as a lasting tribute to the legacy of Crown Prince Nayif.”

The delegation is scheduled to depart June 20, 2012 and will also include James B. Smith, United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism; and Robert S. Mueller III, director of the FBI.

The White House statement also noted that A. Elizabeth Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs; George J. Tenet, former director of the CIA; and Frances Fragos Townsend, former assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security will serve as part of the delegation.

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