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Saudis, U.S. sign accord lifting post-9/11 travel restrictions

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The United States and Saudi Arabia have agreed on the easing of travel restrictions.

The agreement, signed during the visit of Saudi Interior Minister Prince
Mohammed Bin Nayef, would allow Saudis deemed low-risk to quickly pass
through security checks as both countries seek to identify potential
insurgents.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef signs a “trusted traveler” agreement with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Jan. 17. /SPA

In 2012, 180,000 Saudis visited the United States, an 80 percent
increase over the previous year.

“The trusted traveler programs will facilitate trade and travel between
Saudi Arabia and the United States and will help authorities from the MoI and DHS more effectively identity potential threats
to keep their borders and countries secure,” the statement said.

The security agreement also includes cooperation in the area of cyber security.

Both countries have been under cyberattacks, and the state-owned energy monopoly Saudi Aramco reported a major strike that crippled its computer network in late 2012.

The Saudi Interior Ministry accord with the U.S. Homeland
Security Department calls for cooperation in efforts to prevent cyber attacks. In a joint statement, the two agencies did not elaborate on the cooperation efforts.

“MoI and DHS have a mutual interest in partnering to protect critical
vital government and private sector infrastructure of bi-national
importance, and to make cyberspace more secure for citizens of both
countries,” the statement said.

The Jan. 17 statement was issued amid the signing of an agreement to
bolster security cooperation between Riyad and Washington.

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