Bush to Saudi Crown Prince: ''We will not allow Israel to be crushed''
U.S. President George W. Bush voiced exasperation Friday with fresh Israeli offensives but said U.S. support for the Jewish state is unequivocal. "We will not allow Israel to be crushed," he said.
The president, speaking on the day after his five hours of discussions with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, addressed the Saudi leader's warning that U.S. tolerance of Israeli military action in Palestinian areas was threatening America's ties to the Arab world.
"I told the crown prince that we've got a unique relationship with Israel, and that one thing that the world can count on is that we will not allow Israel to be crushed," Bush said near his Texas ranch.
Still, he appealed to Congress to hold off on any official resolution supporting Israel because of Arab sensitivities.
And he bristled at the latest troop movements in defiance of his April 4 demand that Israel halt incursions into Palestinian areas.
Abdullah, according to a Saudi spokesman, told Bush in their Thursday talks that he must rein in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "The Israelis understand my position," Bush said Friday. "I've been very clear on that. And there has been some progress, but it's now time to quit it altogether. It's time to end this."
He was responding to news that Israeli soldiers re-entered the West Bank town of Qalqiliya on Friday and, separately, fired on Palestinian protesters near Yasser Arafat 's headquarters in Ramallah, where the Palestinian leader has been kept under virtual house arrest, AP reported.
Bush, citing U.S. interests in the Arab world, sounded a note of caution to House conservatives proposing a resolution in support of Israel's fight against terrorism. He said he hoped "that Congress realizes we've got interests in the area, as well, beyond Israel — that we have good relationships with the Saudis and the Jordanians and the Egyptians."
With Abdullah remaining in Texas for several more days, White House officials left open the possibility that top administration officials will fly down from Washington for additional talks.
In what was billed as a personal visit between two old friends, Abdullah and Bush's father, the first President Bush, took a 90-minute train ride together from Houston to College Station, Texas, where Bush treated the crown prince to a private tour of his presidential library.
Later Friday, the former president, who successfully built an Arab coalition against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War, was giving the same VIP tour — plus dinner — to King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
In Washington, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell will hold a new round of diplomatic talks next week with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and senior officials of the European Union.
The leaders will meet in Washington to discuss how to get Mideast peacemaking back on track, said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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