Members of Congress Urge Obama to Meet with Civil Society in Saudi Arabia
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, 17 members of Congress, including the Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and ten other members of the Commission, strongly urged President Obama to meet with representatives of civil society and human rights advocates, including those who may be currently in prison or their families, during his trip to Saudi Arabia.
While recognizing that the U.S. government must engage with the Saudi government on issues of mutual interest, the lawmakers expressed their firm belief that U.S. engagement with the Saudi government should actively include engagement with Saudi human rights advocates. They recalled the President's recent trip to Cuba, during which he met not only with Cuban government officials, but also with representatives of Cuban civil society and human rights advocates. That precedent sent a clear message to the international community that meetings with members of civil society, including political dissidents, are an important and indispensable element of engagement with non-democratic regimes, friends and foes alike. The members of Congress emphasized that Saudi civil society merits the same regard.
The full text of the letter is available here [PDF].