President Bush refused on Tuesday to release classified passages from a congressional report on possible links between Saudi Arabian government officials and the Sept. 11 hijackers. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal agreed to let U.S. investigators question a suspected Saudi agent who befriended the hijackers.
Bush said he would not comply with a Saudi request to declassify 28 pages from the 850-page report because it could compromise national security.
The Saudis saw publication of the 28 pages as a chance to clear their kingdom's name after suggestions by some U.S. officials of an official Saudi connection to the attacks.
"Saudi Arabia is indicted by insinuation," Prince Saud told reporters at the White House. "It is an outrage to any sense of fairness that 28 blank pages are now considered substantial evidence to proclaim the guilt of a country that has been a true friend and partner to the United States for over 60 years."
"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity," he said. "This accusation is based on misguided speculation and it is borne of poorly disguised, malicious intent."
After the White House meeting, Prince Saud spoke for about an hour with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. He said later she told him U.S. authorities want to question Omar al-Bayoumi, an employee of the Saudi aviation authority who befriended two of the Saudi hijackers on their arrival in California.
Earlier, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz on Tuesday ruled out the extradition of al-Bayumi.
"We have never handed over a Saudi to a state or a foreign side and we will never do it," Prince Nayef told al-Hayat.
"Reports that Omar al-Bayumi is an agent of the Saudi government are baseless and not true," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, said last week. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )