Saudi prince has stern words for Bush on Mideast

26 2002

Saudi prince has stern words for Bush on Mideast

CRAWFORD, Texas -- Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah delivered a stern warning to President Bush on Thursday about the risks the United States faces if it continues with a Middle East policy widely perceived in the Arab world as favoring Israel.

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In comments to reporters after the meeting, Bush emphasized the common ground between the United Sates and Saudi Arabia, saying the two nations "share a vision" for peace in the Mideast.

The president said topics of discussion included the war on terror, and the ongoing crisis between Israel and the Palestinians. He also praised Abdullah for his leadership and his vision in proposing a peace plan in which Israel would exchange land for peace with Arab nations.

"Our two nations share a vision of two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security," Bush said. "I reiterated that all parties have responsibilities to help achieve that vision. The Palestinian Authority must do more to stop terror. Israel must finish its withdrawal, including resolutions of standoffs in Ramallah and Bethlehem -- in a nonviolent way."

He added, "We discussed the need for Arab states to condemn terror, to stop incitement of violence, and as part of a long-term peace, to accept Israel as a nation and a neighbor." The two also agreed that an international effort is needed to provide humanitarian aid "to the many innocent Palestinians who are suffering."

The president and the prince met in Crawford for nearly five hours -- considerably longer than the one hour originally scheduled. During the visit, Bush took Abdullah on a tour of his ranch, driving in a pickup truck over the 1,600-acre spread, and the two lunched at the president's ranch house.

"It went on for a while, because there was a lot to discuss," Bush said.

The president said he and the Saudi crown prince "established a strong, personal bond" during their meeting. "We spent a lot of time alone discussing our respective visions, talking about our families."

Abdullah 'doesn't mince words'

But Adel Al-Jubeir, a foreign policy adviser to the Saudi government, told reporters Abdullah had warned Bush about the direction of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

"The crown prince speaks directly. He is sincere and he doesn't mince words -- just like the president," Al-Jubeir said. "The message is, if the violence does not diminish, there will be grave consequences for the U.S. and its interests in the region."

Al-Jubeir said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon must withdraw Israeli troops from Palestinian cities and towns; end the sieges of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Ramallah and around the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; and submit to a swift U.N. fact-finding mission in Jenin. CONTINUE...

Source by CNN

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