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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 14:20 GMT
Charles praises British expats
Prince Charles and Sultan Prince
The Prince of Wales starts a basketball training match
The Prince of Wales has praised Britons in Saudi Arabia for their "resilience and optimism" while living under the threat of terrorism.

Speaking in Riyadh, Prince Charles said he had great sympathy for the difficulties they had endured.

He met expatriates affected by bombings at residential compounds last year.

The prince's short visit to the kingdom was aimed at demonstrating solidarity in the war against terrorism which has targeted westerners in the country.

'Dynamic optimism'

The Foreign Office is continuing to warn against all but essential travel to the region, with intelligence suggesting terrorists are plotting further attacks.

Eighteen people died and more than 80 were injured when bombers struck a compound in Riyadh last November.

Prince Charles meets troops stationed in Basra
The troops need cheering up
Prince Charles' spokesman

Six months earlier, more than 30 people were killed, including two Britons, in blasts at another residency.

A senior aide to the prince said: "The Prince spoke to people personally affected by the May and November bombings.

"He said very much sympathised with the difficulties they have had to face and that he was hugely impressed by their resilience and their dynamic optimism."

Prince Charles later visited the British Embassy in the heavily secured diplomatic quarter of the capital.

Improved relations

The Prince of Wales' trip to Saudi Arabia is aimed at cementing the warming in relations with the UK after a difficult period prompted by the jailing of expatriates.

Six Britons were freed on a Royal pardon in August after being accused of taking part in a turf war over bootleg alcohol.

The prince knows the senior echelons of the Saudi royal family well and it is felt can do a good job of pushing forward improved relations with the UK.

British Airways cancelled flights to Riyadh on 31 December and 4 January but resumed them following a security review.

The prince arrived in Saudi Arabia after visiting the south of Iran to see the devastation caused by the earthquake which destroyed much of the ancient city of Bam.

He toured the city of Bam, meeting survivors of the earthquake that killed an estimated 42,000 people and injured more than 30,000 on 26 December.

He was the first British royal to visit Iran since the 1970s.

The visit came amid celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Islamic republic in 1979.

He has also been to see British troops based in Iraq.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"A few years ago a visit such as this would have been unthinkable"

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