On Week of 9-11, Delegation Believes “There is no more Appropriate Time to Focus on Where the Kingdom Must Go, Can Go and Where We Believe it is Going”
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 10, 2019 – On the eve of the 18th anniversary of the September 11th tragedy, His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, welcomed to The Royal Court in Jeddah a delegation of American Evangelical Christian leaders led by New York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg, for a return visit to engage in dialogue about countering extremism, the Middle East peace process, religious freedom, human rights and an update on ongoing reforms related to Vision 2030.
The delegation’s second visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within a year was organized by the Kingdom’s new Ambassador to the United States, HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, as well as her immediate predecessor, HRH Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Following the meeting in Jeddah, the delegation issued a joint statement:
“We are grateful for the hospitality of our hosts, His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. As in all of our interactions with the Kingdom and religious leaders of this nation, our focus has principally been the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“While it may surprise some that we would choose the week of September 11 to visit the Kingdom, we actually feel there is no more appropriate time to focus on where the Kingdom must go, can go and where we believe it is going. In fact, our visit here on this profoundly important week is in defiance of those that aim to derail reform in the Kingdom through an embrace of hate and fear rather than courage and moderation.
“We are also grateful to have deepening relationships in the Kingdom where trust is invaluable and where change is a topic of daily conversation. This increasing trust has afforded us the opportunity to talk openly, if sometimes privately, about what we believe must change in the Kingdom even as we celebrate the Kingdom’s progress in so many other areas. That is particularly evidenced by the diversification of its economy, tourism, the groundbreaking work of the recent Charter of Mecca and the introduction of various forms of openness and modernization -- especially as they relate to the rights of women. Our meetings were unhurried and our discussions were substantive.
“Frankly, we’re delighted at the scope of the developments even as we look with expectation for more change. We are patient friends with realistic expectations that it will take time to reform what took years to create.”
Additionally, Rosenberg noted that the delegation was encouraged to see that two U.S. Senators visited the Kingdom this week and met with the Crown Prince.
“We were stunned to learn that these were the only two elected U.S. officials who have come to visit all year,” Rosenberg added. “Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most important strategic allies in the war against Radical Islamist terrorism and in countering the rising Iranian threat. While there are challenges in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, we urge more congressional leadership to come here, see the sweeping and positive reforms that the Crown Prince is making, and ask him candid questions directly, rather than sniping at him from Washington.”
During the visit, the delegation also met with the General (Ret.) John Abizaid, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; H.E. Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, Secretary of the Muslim World League; H.E. Mohammed Al-Jaber, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen and Saudi military officials; H.E. Faisal bin Muaamar, secretary general of the King Abdullah International Dialogue Centre and advisor to His Majesty King Salman; the deputy to HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal, Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and Corner Saudi chief of intelligence. Further, the group had a briefing by senior staff of ETIDAL, Saudi Arabia’s center for countering extremist ideology and toured the ancient Nabatean city of Hegra and the futuristic city of NEOM.
Members of the delegation to Saudi Arabia hosted by Rosenberg included his wife Lynn, co-founder of The Joshua Fund; Rev. Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders; Larry Ross, founder and CEO of A. Larry Ross Communications; Hon. John Kenneth Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission; Wayne Pederson, global ambassador for several international Christian ministries; Michael Little, former president and COO of The Christian Broadcasting Network; Skip Heitzig, senior pastor of Calvary Albuquerque in New Mexico; and Lenya Heitzig, speaker and award-winning author of 13 books.
A. Larry Ross,