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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 12:33 GMT
Saudi anger at US silence
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud
The Saudi government is in the Mid-East spotlight
By BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy

Saudi Arabia has expressed anger and frustration at the failure of the Bush administration to come forward with an expected initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal reportedly said it was enough to "make a sane man go mad".

His remarks follow a statement from the White House that President Bush would not meet the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the United Nations this weekend.

Women queuing outside Saudi Afghan food store
The Saudis are sending aid to Afghanistan
The crisis in US-Saudi relations pre-dates the 11 September attacks against the United States.

In August, Crown Prince Abdullah - who runs day-to-day policy in Saudi Arabia - wrote to Mr Bush saying the US failure to stop Israeli-Palestinian violence was putting the kingdom in an impossible position.

The Saudis say Mr Bush responded by promising a new Middle East initiative, and they are now furious that no such initiative has materialised.

US hard line

The Arabs had expected a major policy speech by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, but there is still no clue as to when it may be delivered, and not much hope it will contain anything new.

Anti-Israeli demonstration in Gaza after an Israeli incursion into Beit Rima left several people dead
Protests could spread quickly through the Middle East
And now the White House has cancelled an expected meeting at the UN between President Bush and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

US officials say they are in no mood to reward Mr Arafat since they say he is not serious in stamping out violence.

As Mr Bush prepares to speak to the UN General Assembly on Saturday - where he is expected to renew his call for global backing in his fight against terrorism - he can ill afford a serious rift with his allies in the Arab world.

See also:

09 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israeli woman shot dead
03 Nov 01 | Middle East
Bin Laden popular in Saudi Arabia
25 Oct 01 | Middle East
Arabs see advantage in terror war
22 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
A new era of violence
12 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
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