Saudi Rules Out Foreign Attack on Muslims From its Soil
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz has said the kingdom will not allow foreign troops to use its territory to launch attacks against Muslims and Arabs, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The kingdom "will not accept the presence of any foreign troops on its territory to fight Arabs and Muslims," he was quoted in Okaz daily as saying at a reception in the northwestern province of Qassim province.
Prince Sultan pointed out that the kingdom, Washington's main ally in the region, has no defense agreement with the United States or any other country.
"We will not accept any soldier to remain in our country to fight Muslims or Arabs," he stressed.
A highly placed Saudi military source already denied Saturday that the kingdom would allow the United States to use its air bases to launch attacks against Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 terror attacks in the US, and his Afghan hosts.
US President George W. Bush said Friday that Saudi Arabia -- thought to have been reluctant to help -- was "cooperating with us in terms of any military planning we might be doing."
His statement followed reports that the kingdom had decided to allow Washington to use air command facilities on its territory.
Prince Sultan said all foreign troops, called by the kingdom after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, were withdrawn following the liberation of the emirate in 1991.
"Currently, there is no non-Saudi soldier in our country," he said.
But the minister added that "40 American, British and French fighters" have used a Saudi base to patrol a no-fly zone over southern Iraq "because we do not trust the Iraqi regime."
A Gulf diplomat told AFP on Friday that Saudi Arabia had agreed to allow the United States to use state-of-the-art US-built air command facilities at Prince Sultan Air Base to fight bin Laden and the Taliban.
"Saudi Arabia has no objection to the use of the facilities at Prince Sultan Air Base," 100 kilometers south of Riyadh, said the diplomat, who requested anonymity -- RIYADH (AFP)
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