- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

‘PAINFUL MOMENT’

The Saudi ambassador accused al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden of deliberately recruiting more Saudis than from other Arab nations in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to try to drive a wedge between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir added that his government was shocked to learn that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

(Corrected paragraph:) “It was a painful moment for us when it was discovered that most of the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia,” he said in a recent interview with the U.S.-Arab Tradeline, a publication of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce.

“We believe that Osama bin Laden intentionally selected Saudis for this heinous crime to give the operation a Saudi face and to create doubts in the minds of Americans about the kingdom.”

The hijackers killed nearly 3,000 people from 90 countries in attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Arlington and in another plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers thwarted the terrorists who were thought to have been targeting Washington.

Mr. al-Jubeir added that the attacks caused relations to suffer among the public but reinforced U.S.-Saudi cooperation in the war on terrorism.

“We both are the main targets for al Qaeda, and we both work closely together to defeat it,” he said. “And, God willing, we will.”

Al Qaeda began attacking Saudi targets in 2003 and has killed more than 150 Saudi subjects and foreigners in Saudi Arabia. It latest attack was in August when a suicide bomber tried to kill Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Mr. al-Jubeir noted that bipartisan ties have vastly improved over the past nine years and that King Abdullah and President Bush “institutionalized” relations with a “Strategic Dialogue” to deal with counterterrorism, military cooperation, economic and energy issues, human development and consular affairs.

“Today, our countries face mutual challenges in the [Middle East] region, in the global economy and in the fight against terrorism, and their relationship has grown stronger as a consequence of their close cooperation,” the ambassador said.

EGYPT ENCOURAGED

Egypt is pleased with President Obama’s promise to re-engage Israelis and Palestinians in new Middle East peace talks and applauds his goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, said Egyptian Ambassador Sameh Shoukry.

“We are encourage by signs of determination by the administration,” he told an audience in Little Rock, Ark., on a visit to open an exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

“These challenges have a wide-ranging impact both on the region and beyond. This has led to an obvious conclusion, in that positive engagement with the U.S. and rallying behind the international community is crucial to address these challenges.”

Mr. Shoukry, speaking at the Clinton School of Public Service last week on the day Mr. Obama addressed the United Nations, endorsed his call to “seek a world free of nuclear weapons.”

MONEY FOR JORDAN

The United States on Monday announced the award of more than $400 million in additional aid to Jordan to support reform programs to promote jobs, water projects, political programs and anti-poverty efforts.

“We are impressed by the commitment of the people and government of Jordan to implement a bold reform and development agenda to improve the lives of Jordanians, especially the poor, young and underprivileged,” said Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft.

The additional aid brings U.S. economic assistance to Jordan to $513.5 million so far this year, the U.S. Embassy said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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