- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2003

Saudi anger

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan is growing angrier by the day.

He has mounted an aggressive public relations campaign against charges that his country supports terrorism, in the face of repeated news reports of connections between members of the Saudi royal family and Islamist extremists.

Now he is frustrated by charges that Saudi Arabia manipulated oil production that led to higher gas prices in the United States. Last week, 32 Democratic senators blamed Saudi Arabia for increases that boosted prices to an average of $1.75 per gallon for regular-grade gasoline.

Prince Bandar, in a statement last week, denounced the accusations against his country as nonsense and emphasized that Saudi Arabia actually increased oil production to make up for shortfalls in Iraq and other oil-producing countries.

“While it seems to be a trend to blame anything and everything on the Saudis, the latest claim that we have inflated oil prices is nonsense,” he said. “Saudi Arabia has done all that it can to maintain stability in the global oil market and will continue to do so.”

He said Saudi Arabia is becoming a scapegoat in the debate over U.S. energy policies.

Wholesale oil prices fell late last week, with the price dropping by 26 cents on the U.S. market to $29.23 per barrel.

Prince Bandar said, “Earlier this year, taking into account the shortages resulting from civil unrest in Nigeria and workers’ strikes in Venezuela and the tense situation in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia — at great effort and expense — effected a substantial increase in oil production in order to prevent a disruption to the world’s economy.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• The Dalai Lama, who attends the International Campaign for Tibet’s 2003 Light of Truth Awards this week. He will appear at the National Cathedral on Thursday to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks. The event is open to the public beginning at 2:30 p.m.

• A delegation of Russian journalists: Andrey Gorbunov of Kaliningradskaya Pravda; Irana Guguyeva of the Observer of Khabarovsk; Valeriy Ivanov of the Agency of Journalistic Investigations of St. Petersburg; Vladimir Kochkovskiy of Sakhalin Television and Radio Co.; Aleksandr Komrakov of Samara’s Reporter newspaper; Sergey Likhachev of the Chelyabinskiy Rabochiy newspaper; Igor Nikitin of the Zolotoy Rog newspaper of Vladivostok; Yevgeniy Plotnikov of the Zvezda newspaper of Perm; Irina Safyanova of Vsluh Inform of Tyumen; Aleksandr Samoylov of St. Petersburg’s Novaya Gazeta; Dina Smetanova of SKAT TV of Samara; Vladimir Terletskiy of the Delovoy Ural newspaper of Yekaterinburg; and Oleg Tsvetkov of the Okrybrskiy Most newspaper of Cherepovets. They are guests of the State Department’s International Visitor Program.

Tomorrow

• Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who meets President Bush and other officials on his three-day visit.

• Kek Galabru of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, Sok Sam Oeun of the Cambodian Defenders Project and Thun Saray of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association. They attend a forum on the Khmer Rouge sponsored by the Asia Society and the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Wednesday

• Latin American officials attending the annual Conference on Trade and Investment in the Americas. They include: Jose Angel Gurria, former finance minister of Mexico; Rudolf Hommes, former finance minister of Colombia; Beatriz Merino, prime minister of Peru; Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert, vice president of Bolivia; Moira Paz Estenssoro of the Bolivian Senate; Mauricio Pozo, economic minister of Ecuador; Jorge Fernando Quiroga, former president of Bolivia; and Marta Lucia Ramirez, defense minister of Colombia.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com.


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