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SAUDI ARABIA - Aug. 11 - Prince Saud Dismisses US Accusations.

In an interview with ABC-TV in Jidda, FM Prince Saud Al Faisal dismisses as "ridiculous" the last week's briefing to a Pentagon advisory board that described Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the US (see last week's Recorder). He says Washington has received extensive co-operation from Riyadh. He says the US criticism of the kingdom was unfair and inaccurate. He notes that the work of the US-Saudi counter-terrorism committee established five years ago has intensified in the past 10 months. The former head of intelligence Prince Turki Bin Faisal said in a separate interview that combating Al Qaida had been at the top of the committee's agenda for years. (The committee brings together US and Saudi military, intelligence and law enforcement officials, in meetings every month or two. The committee was formed at the suggestion of Defence Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz. Despite the committee's work, Riyadh has been accused by some in Washington of fomenting terrorism through its sponsorship of Islamic schools and mosques world-wide. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, and Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, have asserted that ostensible Saudi humanitarian aid has been diverted to groups responsible for suicide bombings in Israel).

Saud called the allegations baseless and said the hundreds of millions of dollars the kingdom had extended to the Palestinians went to the PA, which was also a major recipient of aid from the EU. Moreover, he said, the Saudi government had cut off financing to all groups that it had identified as advocating terrorism. Saud said: "Suddenly, Saudi Arabia has gone from staunch ally of the United States to the centre of all evil in the world. The senators raise these accusations. The least they can do, instead of accusing, is to verify. And I'm afraid that neither of them has verified". Saud also noted that Al Qaida was a sworn enemy of the government that wanted to crush the ruling monarchy and sever the kingdom's relations with the US. He said: "It would be the ultimate of contradictions that we finance those who are trying to do harm to our country, but these facts seems to be left aside or disregarded". Riyadh officials said that since late last year, the authorities have questioned 2,000-3,000 Saudis who had been to Afghanistan, Bosnia or Chechnya and were suspected of having participated in the wars there. Of those questioned, at least 200 remain in custody.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Aug 17, 2002
Words:403
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