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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Saudis 'should reconsider US ties'
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal with Colin Powell (June 2002)
In the past, Saudi-US ties have been close
A Saudi newspaper close to the government has called for a review of the kingdom's long-standing and close relationship with the United States.


We must question those who think that America is our strategic option that cannot be substituted

Al-Riyadh
A front-page editorial in Al-Riyadh newspaper says there is a need to revise Saudi Arabia's international strategic relations.

The article comes only a day after relatives of victims of the 11 September attacks launched a big lawsuit against people they accuse of helping finance the al-Qaeda network, including members of the Saudi royal family.

Although the paper does not refer to this, it does mention a recent Pentagon briefing during which oil-rich Saudi Arabia was accused of being a supporter of terrorism and an enemy of the US.

The Pentagon subsequently tried to distance itself from the briefing given to one of its advisory groups, and Saudi Arabia dismissed reports of tension in its relations with the US.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal played down the incident, blaming elements within the Bush administration who "unfortunately" sought to shake the traditional strong ties between the two countries.

'Blackmail

"We must question those who think that America is our strategic option that cannot be substituted. Those will put us in a narrow space, and their [belief] is not supported by objective justification," the Al-Riyadh editorial said on Friday.

According to French news agency AFP, only two out of nearly a dozen Saudi dailies carried details of the lawsuit filed in Washington on Thursday.

Osama Bin Laden
Victims' families hope to bankrupt "sponsors of terrorism"
Neither mentioned the naming in the suit of three Saudi royals: former intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal al-Saud, Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, and businessman Mohammed al Faisal al-Saud.

One of those which did carry the story, Okaz, branded the suit as "the largest operation of blackmail plotted by secret hands".

The lawsuit alleged that Saudi money has "for years been funnelled to encourage radical anti-Americanism as well as to fund the al-Qaeda terrorists".

Those named include Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden and several members of his family.

Fifteen of the 19 alleged hijackers on 11 September were Saudis.

Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement and repeatedly has said its relations with the US remained strong.

Leading Bush administration officials have said publicly that ties with Saudi Arabia were excellent.

The lawsuit also comes just days after Saudi Arabia ruled out handing over to the US 16 alleged al-Qaeda fighters extradited from Iran.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

16 Aug 02 | Americas
13 Aug 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Americas
08 Aug 02 | Middle East
06 Aug 02 | Americas
12 Mar 02 | Americas
16 Oct 01 | Middle East
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