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NYTimes.com Article: Saudi Tells Bush U.S. Must Temper Backing ofIsrael (fwd)
by Boris Stremlin
26 April 2002 06:56 UTC
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It seems that the White House press corps has been infiltrated by
subversives from the theatre of the absurd.  With apologies to any
real playwrights out there, here is my own dramaturgical
abstract of this article:

ACT I:  The Crawford Ranch

Abdullah:  If you don't rein in Sharon, the whole region is going to go up
in flames.

Bush:  Yes, I agree that Saddam is a menace, and must be dealt with
promptly.  What suggestions do you have?

ACT II:  The Ranch Parking Lot

Reporter:  Why is there no joint press conference?

Administration Official:  The President looked the Prince in the eye.
They also saw a wild turkey - a good omen.

ACT III:  New York Times Editor's Office

Elizabeth Bumiller:  I'm not really sure how this story ties together.

Editor:  Make sure you provide a full menu of what the President and the
Prince consumed.

Eplogue:  The playwright makes a curtain call.

Voice from Audience:  Are you trying to insult my intelligence?  Or are
you just nuts?

Playwright:  It's all part of my evil plan...


Saudi Tells Bush U.S. Must Temper Backing of Israel

April 26, 2002


CRAWFORD, Tex., April 25 - Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi
Arabia told President Bush bluntly today that the United
States must temper its support for Israel or face grave
consequences throughout the Arab world, Saudi officials

In several sessions lasting five hours at the president's
central Texas ranch, the crown prince told Mr. Bush that if
the United States did not do more to stop incursions into
Palestinian areas by the forces of Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon, it would continue to lose credibility in the Middle
East and create more instability there, the Saudi officials

"If Sharon is left to his own devices, he will drag the
region over a cliff," Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign policy
adviser to the crown prince, said after the meetings
between Mr. Bush and the prince. "That does not serve
America's interests, and it does not serve Saudi Arabia's

Mr. Bush and American officials, while they did not deny
that Prince Abdullah had presented his case forcefully,
offered a far more positive account of the meetings.

"One of the really positive things out of this meeting was
that the crown prince and I established a strong personal
bond," Mr. Bush told reporters after the meeting. "We spent
a lot of time alone."

Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Jubeir said the crown prince had not
threatened in any way to reduce Saudi oil exports to the
United States. A person close to the prince had suggested
on Wednesday that could happen if the United States
continued what the Saudis view as a one-sided policy toward

Saudi Arabia is America's second-largest foreign supplier
of oil, and in 2001 exported nearly 605 million barrels to
the United States, or 8.5 percent of what the country

"Saudi Arabia made it clear, and has made it clear
publicly, that they will not use oil as a weapon," Mr. Bush

Mr. Jubeir echoed the president. "Oil is not a weapon," he
said to reporters here. "Oil is not a tank. You cannot fire

Saudi officials also denied today a suggestion from a
person close to the royal family who was quoted in The New
York Times that their government might demand that the
United States leave strategic military bases in Saudi
Arabia if the Bush administration refuses to rein in Mr.

Mr. Bush, who a week ago infuriated the Arab world by
calling Mr. Sharon "a man of peace," said he had told
Prince Abdullah that he was counting on Israel to withdraw
its forces from Palestinian areas, including, he said,
resolving the standoffs in Ramallah and Bethlehem.

"I made it clear to him that I expected Israel to withdraw,
just like I've made it clear to Israel," Mr. Bush said.
"And we expect them to be finished. He knows my position.
He also knows that I will work for peace. I will bring
parties along."

"But I think he recognizes that America can't do it alone,
that it's going to require a unified effort," the president
added. "And one of the main things about this visit was to
solidify that effort."

The meeting today seemed primarily to be a chance for the
Saudis to lecture the American president, to strengthen
their hand and quiet the growing unrest in their streets.

No joint statement was issued afterward, although the White
House proposed one on Wednesday that was rejected by the
Saudis, an official familiar with the talks said.

The Saudis objected to the United States' characterization
of a peace initiative proposed by the crown prince in
March, the official said. Specifically, the official said,
the United States emphasized the recognition of Israel in
the statement but did not include the requirement that
Israel withdraw to its 1967 borders. The prince's plan
calls for "normal relations" with Israel, the creation of a
Palestinian state and Israel's return to its 1967

A Bush administration official who briefed reporters after
the meeting did not explain the reason for the lack of a
joint statement.

"You know, after these meetings, we sometimes have joint
statements, and we sometimes don't have joint statements,"
the official said. "There is not going to be a joint
statement for this meeting."
Administration officials said the president and the prince
had discussed the idea of an international peace
conference, but had not come to a conclusion.

"We haven't made any decision about whether we think an
international conference makes sense now," the
administration official said. "Any such conference would
have be to very well prepared."

Saudi officials appeared skeptical about the idea,
particularly given Mr. Sharon's isolation of Yasir Arafat,
the Palestinian leader, in his compound in Ramallah, and
Mr. Sharon's refusal to have Mr. Arafat attend an Arab
League meeting in March.
"You can't have a peace conference if Sharon gets to decide
who attends and who doesn't attend," Mr. Jubeir said.
"That's not a peace conference. That's not going to fly."

Mr. Bush and Prince Abdullah also discussed American
proposals to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq,
American and Saudi officials said, offering no details of
the conversation.

"The president, once again, noted that Saddam Hussein and
his efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction are a
threat to the region," the administration official said. He
added: "The Saudis clearly understand the dangers from
Saddam Hussein. They live in his neighborhood. They know
what kind of regime that is."

Mr. Jubeir said after the meeting that the United States
strategy for removing Mr. Hussein was not fully developed.
"We do not believe the policy of the administration has
been finalized," he said.

But he nonetheless said Saudi Arabia would not allow the
United States to use Saudi bases to stage any future attack
against Iraq.

"The administration is not at the point where they would
ask that question," Mr. Jubeir said. "Were they to ask that
question, our response would be that it would not serve the
interests of the U.S. and it would not serve the interests
of the region."

Prince Abdullah arrived this morning at the airport in
Waco, Tex., where he was greeted by Secretary of State
Colin L. Powell, and was then driven for 50 minutes to Mr.
Bush's 1,600-acre ranch.

The prince was 10 minutes late in arriving at the ranch,
where reporters could see the president in the breezeway of
the house shifting from foot to foot like an anxious host.

The president and the prince met for two hours in the
morning, and spent part of that time one-on-one,
administration officials said. Afterward, Mr. Bush gave him
a tour of the ranch in his pickup truck.

"He's a man who's got a farm and he understands the land,
and I really took great delight in being able to drive him
around in a pickup truck and showing him the trees and my
favorite spots," Mr. Bush said. "And we saw a wild turkey,
which was good."

Afterward, the two had a lunch of beef tenderloin, potato
salad, brownies and ice cream. The lunch broke up after
3:30 p.m., more than an hour after it was scheduled to end.


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