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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Saudi's Washington envoy resigns
By Roger Hardy
Middle East analyst

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan
Prince Bandar has been the Saudi envoy for 20 years
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US Prince Bandar bin Sultan, has resigned after more than 20 years in the post.

The embassy in Washington has sought to play down rumours of his departure saying merely that he is on holiday.

But Saudi officials have confirmed the persistent speculation that Prince Bandar has tendered his resignation.

It is thought he would like a senior job back home, such as head of intelligence - a post that has been vacant for several months.

'Arab Gatsby'

Prince Bandar became Saudi ambassador to Washington in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. He has been close to every president since then.

A man of extraordinary drive and energy and with a colourful lifestyle, he was once memorably described as an "Arab Gatsby".

He played a central role in building the special relationship between Riyadh and Washington, a task that has become significantly harder since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Known to be in poor health, there has been speculation for some time that he wanted to leave his post.

If the ailing Saudi King Fahd were to die, it is expected that Crown Prince Abdullah would become king and Prince Bandar's father, Prince Sultan, the current defence minister, would become crown prince.

Prince Bandar may wish to position himself for a new role in the post-Fahd era.

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