The Saudi foreign minister said Sunday the kingdom would be "obliged to follow through" if the United States needed bases in the kingdom to attack Iraq under U.N. approval.
These comments to CNN by Prince Saud al-Faisal would mark an important shift in Saudi policy. In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Saud stressed that U.S. facilities in the desert kingdom would be off limits for an attack on Iraq.
When asked by CNN specifically if Saudi bases would be available to Washington, Saud said: "Everybody is obliged to follow through."
Saud added, however, that he remained opposed in principle to the use of military force against Saddam Hussein or a unilateral American attack.
Saud also urged Baghdad to quickly allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to head off a Security Council resolution that could open the way for military attacks.
"Timing is important, and allowing inspectors back before a Security Council resolution to that effect would be in Iraq's favor," he told the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat. "We are afraid that (a refusal) would harm the Iraqi people and increase their burden. We are worried about Iraq's unity, stability and independence," al-Faisal said.
Given that Iraq denies it has a program to stockpile or produce such weapons of mass destruction, Saud said Iraq should not fear the return of inspectors. "What is wrong in allowing them back and put all this to an end? We believe it would be a wise move," Saud said.
Saud told CNN that in the event of war, Saudi Arabia "will do everything we can" to keep oil prices stable and he believed other OPEC members would cooperate.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he had spoken with dozens of world leaders since President Bush urged the United Nations to get tough with Baghdad -- or the United States would act on its own.
"I got good responses from all the people I talked to," Powell told reporters after speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We had a very good dialogue and I'm pleased with the initial reactions from friends and colleagues in Europe and elsewhere in the world."
Powell said the United States would give other states a few days to consider Bush's call for tough action to enforce 16 earlier Security Council resolutions, but hoped to start crafting fresh measures by the end of this week.
Work on new U.N. Security Council resolutions should be completed within a matter of "weeks, not months," including a short timetable for compliance by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Saddam knows what he has to do. It's been out there for years," he added.
On her part, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that Iraq has links to al-Qaeda. "Iraq has clearly links with terrorism that would include al-Qaeda," Rice told Fox News Sunday.
"There are al-Qaeda personnel that have been spotted in Baghdad," Rice said. "Let's be clear. There's plenty to to indict Saddam Hussein without a direct link to nine-11," Rice said. (Albawaba.com)
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