- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Feb. 19 (UPI) — President Bush has sent a message to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz about the Iraqi situation, the Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday.

A London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported earlier that the Saudis have warned their Arab neighbors that war against Iraq was inevitable.

U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan delivered the message to the crown prince in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, the agency reported but gave no details of the message.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, adviser at the crown prince's court, and Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz, minister of state, member of the Cabinet and chief of the court of the Cabinet's presidency, also attended the meeting at Abdullah's Alsalaam palace in Jeddah.

Crown Prince Abdullah, who runs the country for his ailing brother King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, also met with the visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Alhariri in Jeddah on Wednesday.

The two leaders "discussed the developments in the region, particularly with regard to the Iraqi issue," the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In another development, Deputy Defense Minister Prince Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Wednesday visited Saudi troops at the King Fahd Military City in the eastern region, close to the Iraqi border.

The deputy minister told his troops that they, "must maintain absolute vigilance" because of the current developments in the region. "We must be prepared to carry out our religious and national duties," he added.

The eastern region contains the kingdom's massive petroleum resources. The headquarters of Saudi oil industry is located in this region, a few miles from the administrative capital and port of Dammam. Ras Tanura, the world's largest petroleum port, is also close by.

Meanwhile, Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has informed its Arab neighbors that a U.S. war on Iraq was inevitable.

Quoting a senior official source, the newspaper reported that Saudi officials recently visited several Arab countries and told them that "the war is coming."

Although the paper is based in London, it is generally believed that it represents official Saudi thinking on matters concerning the kingdom and the Middle Eastern region.

The front-page article claimed that Saudis have been consulting other Arabs nations to "ensure Iraq's safety and territorial integrity."

The Saudis have indicated that they did not want Iraq to be divided and also are believed to have urged their American allies to ensure that the situation does not lead to a general chaos in Iraq, which in turn will affect the entire region, the report said.

While urging the Iraqi regime to avoid a military confrontation with the United States, the Saudis appear convinced that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could soon be toppled.

The report, however, did not explain who will topple Saddam and how.

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