GulfWire is pleased to present a summary of a meeting with
Prince Abdullah, First Deputy Premier and Commander of the Saudi
Arabian National Guard, on February 4, 2001. GulfWire Publisher
John Duke Anthony and Managing Editor Patrick W. Ryan are escorting a
prominent defense delegation to Saudi Arabia. Earlier today,
they were granted an audience with the Crown Prince at his office in
Riyadh. Crown Prince Abdullah shared his observations of the
relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the Middle
East peace process, regional defense and other current issues.
"One of the first things I would like to tell you is that
I support whatever
is in U.S. interests. That is because whatever is in the
interest of the
U.S. is also in the interest of Saudi Arabia.
"The America that is of your parents is one of equality, justice
fairness. I believe America has moved away from those
principles. America has deviated from that way. In the
past few years America has said not one word about the conduct of
Israel. Does this mean that Israel has committed no errors?
"America has interests and they have suffered. America's
friends have stood up and defended it but it has become harder to
stand up and defend America.
This is not good for America. America and the American people
are good and their approach to issues is based on equality and justice
"I know President Clinton did his duty. I know he was very
Without a doubt he was a President who deserved respect.
"With regard to the new administration, we wish it success.
I don't know
President Bush. I know his father; I know his father very well.
And I pray to God that he will succeed so he can serve America, he can
serve the peace-loving people of the world and all humanity.
"We are looking for equity and justice from the American people.
repeat, we are looking for equity and justice from the American
America has a conscience and America appreciates the difficulties the
Palestinian people are enduring.
"I have heard some in the Congress suspect I am anti-American.
I'd like to discuss this. I am a direct and an honest man and I
am very honest and straightforward with my friends. We have a
saying in Arabic that "A friend is someone who will be
straightforward with you."
"Yes, I do criticize America -- because it is in its interest
friends] to be critical. I don't criticize to be unfriendly.
change my nature. I am honest and straightforward with my friends and
whoever asks my opinion. That's the way I am. I believe
that all your
Presidents who have dealt with me share that opinion.
"I knew President Carter, President Bush, and President Clinton.
President Reagan and President Ford I knew at a distance. I
couldn't describe my relationship with them as a close one.
"I know Israelis criticize me. I'm convinced that the wise
people of Israel
and the Jewish community believe I'm honest and that it is in their
for me to be honest.
"Forty years ago in the Middle East you couldn't find an Arab who
shake hands with an Israeli. Today, after preparation, the Arab
ready for peace. If we miss the opportunity, and peace does not
hold, there will be a very negative backlash.
"Israel was created in the region. The Arabs were created
in the region.
It is imperative that relations [between the two people] be improved.
must remove the hatred completely. Most of Arab leaders want
this. Many question whether Israelis wants this.
"Israel must account for the fact that its friends may not be
around in 50
years. Israel is a small drop in the bucket in the Middle East.
improve its relationship with the Arabs and agree on something
Because the only power that is permanent is the power of God. I
believe my directness is in the interest of future generations.
"I believe there is no reasonable and rational Israeli who
this. The current situation may remain 10-20 years, but for how
Israel remain in a hostile sea?"
Q. "In the most recent GCC Heads of State Summit in Bahrain
December, Your Highness and other heads of state spoke of the need for
a 'collective defense pact.' Could you explain what you
A. "I was telling my brothers what I felt. I told
them defense without a
political agreement is worthless."
Q. "But 'political agreement' on what kinds of
A. "Common defense. A common defense requires a
common policy and
political agenda first. I emphasized that we have to have a
Q. "How should the U.S. change its policy on Iraq and
A. "With regard to Iraq, the primary concern is the
well-being of the Iraqi
people. Secondly, we're concerned about the unity of Iraq.
And we want
President Saddam Hussein to comply with all the UN Security Council
"With regard to Iran, America has interests in Iran. I was
asked by an
American what Iran was like and I answered, 'You should be telling me
because you had economic, human, and military contacts as well as
commercial interests. Had you maintained them you would have
more insight. So if you were to have commercial relationships
with Iran, U.S. companies could provide you with an understanding.'
"We've reached an understanding with Iran and decided to move
forward to the benefit of the region. In the 1980s, when the
Hajj [Islamic pilgrimage] took place, we would often have problems.
It was very difficult for us to have such problems with another Muslim
nation. They provoked us to take steps to deter and contain
them. Had we not done so, it would have caused harm to other
pilgrims. For the interests of the region, and our own national
interests, we have reached an accommodation. President Khatami
is a good man. He seeks to do good for Iran."
Q. "How is Saudi Arabia approaching future oil price
A. "I want to emphasize a fundamental principle of Saudi
Arabia: anything that hurts the consumer is not in our interest.
At the same time, we do not wish to cause harm to ourselves or any
other OPEC nation.
"I proposed a dialogue between consumers and producers at a
conference in Riyadh a few months ago. I recommended the
establishment of a permanent Secretariat as a means of maintaining
dialogue between the two groups. I believe this will provide a
valuable opportunity for consumers and producers to handle issues away
from the media. It would also make it more difficult for anyone with
an agenda to harm relations between consumers and producers.
I also suggested that not only governments but, also, oil companies be
Q. "Could you comment on challenges and priorities for U.S.
Arabia regarding Gulf defense issues?"
A. "I believe the cooperation is excellent."
Q. "How would you evaluate the Middle East peace
A. "America did all it could. The peace process came
very close until
events took over, inflamed passions, and put a halt to it. There
imbalance between people using tanks against rocks. There have
horrific images on television. Everyone saw the horrible picture
Muhammad Durrah being killed and his father wounded. The
situation damaged American interests in the Middle East because the
U.S., as Israel's major benefactor, could not restrain Israel."
"I believe there is no human being who cannot analyze facts and
conclusion as to what is right. Every human being can assess
rightfully his -- what he is entitled to and what he is not entitled
"Saudi Arabia is a close ally of the U.S. Nothing will shake the
of that. Many have tried to do so, but they have not been
"We hope America will look out for its interests, because that
"We're not seeking aid from America. We're looking for
friendship. If we
ask for U.S. military assistance, we hope America will oblige us, as
pay our way.
"At the same time, we hope America will consult with us, because
we know this region better than the United States and better than
anyone else that America consults. We'll always look out for
America, because that's in our interest and in the interest of the
"I send my highest and sincerest regards to President Bush and