Saudis: Bush accepted linking normalization to right of return
Saudi Sources: Normalization With Israel Issue Caused 24-Hour Crisis With US
GMP20030605000055 London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic 05 Jun 03 p1 [Report by
Abd-al-Latif al-Minawi in Sharm al-Shaykh: "Twenty Four Crisis Between Saudi
Arabia and United States Almost Caused Prince Abdallah's Withdrawal From
[With thanks to www.mideastweb.org/mewnews1.htm ]
[FBIS Translated Text] Informed sources have revealed that relations between
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States went through a 24-hour
crisis at the Sharm al-Shaykh summit that almost caused Saudi Crown Prince
Abdallah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz to pull out from the summit's closing session.
The sources said US President George Bush resolved the problem that revolved
around a paragraph on normalization with Israel that was included in the
proposed final statement. They added that the US President asserted his
positive position and told his aides to delete the paragraph causing the
dispute and said he was willing to go personally to Prince Abdallah to
persuade him to attend.
Sources in the Saudi delegation said they appreciate the US President's
position and understanding of the crown prince's view.
The crisis revolved around a paragraph that the US delegation included and
which declared the summit conferees' agreement on normalization as part of
what was called confidence-building steps between the Arab and Israeli
sides. The US delegation at the negotiations that were held at the
ministerial level insisted on not deleting the paragraph. A Saudi source
said Prince Abdallah was informed and he in turn insisted on rejecting it
and said the Saudi delegation would leave Sharm al-Shaykh if the paragraph
was not deleted and therefore would not take part in the final statement.
Regarding the US delegation's justifications, the source said they
considered it necessary for supporting the negotiations later but the Saudi
side presented a written document that the Saudi Government had sent last
month explaining its position that rejects normalization.
Saudi Ambassador in Washington Prince Bandar Bin-Sultan handed the document
to the White House, which clearly stated the three conditions stipulated at
the Beirut summit -- the ending of all the occupation, the refugees' right
to return, and Jerusalem as the Palestinians' capital -- after which
recognition would be made once these conditions have been met.
On his part, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Sa'ud al-Faysal said they [the
Arabs] value highly President Bush's position and appreciate his personal
commitment to achieving peace.
[Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic -- Influential
Saudi-owned London daily providing independent coverage of Arab and
international issues; editorials reflect official Saudi views on foreign