The following is from a May, 2006, transcript of an address given by Samuel Bodman, Secretary of the Department of Energy, on the U.S.-Saudi relationship:
It is good to be here with you this morning.
Let me begin by thanking the Center for Strategic and International Studies for hosting this dialogue. I appreciated the opportunity to participate in this event for the first time last year, and I am pleased to do so again today.
In these times of tight oil markets and high energy prices, I think it is especially useful to maintain open lines of communication between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.--the largest supplier and the largest consumer of oil. And I think it is also beneficial that the public sees and understands that we are working together to keep the oil market stable and well-supplied. So I appreciate the efforts of CSIS in hosting this forum.
In addition to these considerations, it is always a pleasure to meet with my friend, Minister Al-Naimi. For both personal and professional reasons, I am glad that we are able to talk often. My most recent trip to Saudi Arabia was last November, during which we had very constructive consultations, and I was able to visit Saudi Aramco’s newest facilities, and state-of-the-art technology--which I must say, are very impressive.
Let me take this opportunity, first of all, to say that the United States and Saudi Arabia are, and I believe will continue to remain, strong trading partners with a strong mutual interest in the free flow of oil through open markets around the world. I also want to congratulate Saudi Arabia on its accession to the WTO. Greater Saudi participation in the global trading system will be beneficial to global commerce.
In addition, I am pleased to note that both our nations continue to be strategic allies in the war on terrorism… a war which, as the most recent bombings in Egypt demonstrate, continues to demand our constant vigilance.
As Energy Ministers, we are aware that a major target for terrorists is the production and flow of oil. They seek to disrupt oil markets and cause financial havoc, because the terrorists know that, in the long run, their worst enemy is the spread of freedom, stability, and economic prosperity around the world.
And this is from an Agence France Presse news item published today, about a 19-year-old Saudi woman sentenced to be whipped 200 times for the crime of having been gang-raped:
A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.
But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.
A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."
Just another day in the life of a woman in Saudi Arabia. And yes, hell has frozen over, pigs can fly, and the moon has a distinctly bluish tinge.