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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Bush to hear Saudi Israel warning
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah (centre)
Experts say the two countries are keen to stay allies
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By Heba Saleh
BBC Correspondent in Cairo
line

The American President George W Bush is due to receive Crown Prince Abdullah, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, on Thursday.

Saudi officials say the prince will tell Mr Bush that America's support for Israel could jeopardise its interests in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is a traditional ally of Washington, but relations have been strained since the 11 September attacks.

President Bush drives President Putin around his Texas ranch
The choice of location suggests a desire for chuminess
Mr Bush is hosting the Saudi crown prince at his private ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The choice of location suggests a desire to import an atmosphere of chuminess to what is bound to be a difficult meeting.

Saudi officials say Prince Abdullah will tell Mr Bush that America's support for Israel is damaging its credibility in the Middle East and could even threaten its interests there.

The prince is known for his Arab nationalist positions.

Last year he cancelled a trip to Washington in protest against what he regarded as America's bias towards Israel.

Since then, however, much has happened to further strain relations.

Public pressure

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 11 September attacks were Saudi nationals.

Israeli tank in Bethlehem
The prince is expected to warn Bush about supporting Israel
In the aftermath, the kingdom became the target of intense criticism from the American media - and some senators accused it of nurturing and funding terrorism.

Experts say the stresses in the relationship are being successfully managed because the two governments want to maintain their important alliance.

But now Mr Bush also wants friendly Arab leaders to condemn Palestinian suicide bombers as terrorists.

The crown prince will probably make the point that this would be extremely difficult in the present atmosphere.

He has gone as far as launching a peace initiative offering Israel Arab recognition in exchange for its withdrawal from Arab lands.

But now he faces mounting pressure from Saudi public opinion, which is outraged at both Israel's offensive and America's failure to stop it.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Watson
"The two countries are also at odds over the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein"
Professor Anthony Cordesman
"I doubt if there is going to be confrontation"
See also:

16 Mar 02 | Middle East
Saudis press Cheney on Israel
12 Mar 02 | Americas
US freezes Saudi charity assets
28 Feb 02 | Middle East
Saudi looks to repair dented image
29 Jan 02 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia 'still friends' with US
23 Sep 01 | Middle East
Gulf states back US
26 Mar 02 | Middle East
Profile: Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah
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