Friday, March 30, 2007

"Of all the foreign leaders President Bush has dealt with over the past six years, few have been as direct or blunt in private as Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, according to U.S. officials. At one point in 2002, Abdullah showed Bush images of Palestinian children killed by Israeli troops and demanded to know whether he was committed to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, that private toughness has become public, just as Saudi Arabia has begun to play an uncharacteristically assertive diplomatic role in the region in an effort to calm potential flashpoints in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. In a speech Wednesday before a summit of the Arab League, Abdullah decried what he called the "illegitimate foreign occupation" of Iraq and called for a lifting of the "unjust embargo imposed on the people of Palestine" that has been led by the Bush administration. U.S. officials said they were puzzled by Abdullah's description of the situation in Iraq and will demand an explanation. For months, U.S. officials have said that they were pleased by Saudi Arabia's willingness to shoulder a greater diplomatic burden, but Abdullah's remarks come after disquieting signs that Riyadh is distancing itself from the Bush administration."
And this: ""We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday. "They're good friends and allies. President Bush and Secretary Rice have excellent personal relationships with King Abdullah, and we're certainly grateful for the hospitality that they have extended to us whenever we visit there.""