US Consulate celebrates National Day


JEDDAH — The United States Consulate General here marked the 242nd year of American independence with a celebration hosted by Consul General Matthias J. Mitman on Feb. 14.

The Consulate General welcomed guest of honor Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Makkah Region Branch Ambassador Jamal Balkhoyour and distinguished guests.

This year’s audience learned about America’s national parks, including the Arches National Park in Utah, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and Everglades National Park in Florida.

Consul General Mitman, in his remarks, said: “This year, we celebrate by highlighting US National Parks. In 1872 Congress established the first National Park — Yellowstone. Today, more than 400 National Park areas are spread across the 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories. These natural wonders reflect America’s beauty and diversity.

“Today, we also celebrate the lasting values upon which our country was built: individual freedom, economic opportunity, and representative governance. These values are reflected in the enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Since the historic meeting between President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz on the USS Quincy on Feb. 14, 1945 — exactly 73 years ago — this relationship has been anchored on three main pillars — diplomacy, trade, and security cooperation.

“Fast forward to May 2017, when President Trump visited Saudi Arabia as the first stop on his first international trip. The Riyadh Summit, led by President Trump and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, brought advances in the US-Saudi relationship. Leaders and representatives of 55 Arab and Muslim countries attended the Summit, and brought new determination to grapple with the foremost problems facing our countries.

“Promoting diplomacy, trade, and security cooperation between our two countries are my core priorities as Consul General in Jeddah. My team here also encourages people-to-people diplomacy. One great part of my job is sharing US culture and education with Saudis. Just last month we participated in the Jeddah International Book Fair for the third year in a row. We also regularly welcome American artists and performers to Jeddah.

“As Consul General I have the unique opportunity to welcome American Haj visitors to Saudi Arabia when they land at King Abdulaziz International Airport. Last year, over 20,000 American citizens and permanent residents visited Saudi Arabia during the Haj. The Consulate General supports American pilgrims every year by providing information and American Citizens Services to our citizens while they are here. We are grateful to our Saudi hosts for keeping our pilgrims safe and ensuring that they have a successful Haj.

“Diplomacy, trade, and security cooperation, similar to the massive, breathtaking arches in Grand Arches Park, are the pillars of our historic and powerful relationship. They reflect the values, which make the US-Saudi relationship great. This year, we celebrate the commitment of the American people and government to protect and preserve our values, our homeland, and the future of our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” — SG