Pentagon briefing exposes US policy split

09 August 2002

US and Saudi officials have hastened to dispel allegations made in a Pentagon policy briefing that the kingdom is an enemy of the US. Leaked details of the briefing were published in the Washington Post on 6 August, and the Defence Department later accepted that the briefing had taken place.

The briefing, presented to the Defence Policy Board on 10 July by Laurent Murawiec of US security analysts Rand Corporation, asserted that Saudi Arabia was active in promoting terrorism and that it was emerging as an enemy of US policy in the Middle East.

A State Department spokesman on 6 August said the views were those of a private individual and not those of the US government. According to the spokesman, Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on the morning of 6 August to reassure him that the briefing was not representative of US policy and that US-Saudi relations continued to be strong.

In a statement on 6 August, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld limited himself to attacking the leak as 'terribly unprofessional and clearly harmful,' before asserting that the briefing does not represent 'dominant opinion' in the government.

Riyadh dismissed the briefing as the ravings of a hawkish fringe. 'Unfortunately, there are people in certain departments who try to raise doubts and shake the strong historical ties between our two countries,' said Prince Saud al-Faisal on 7 August. 'I am confident they will not succeed. The Saudi-American relationship of friendship and alliance that goes back 60 years is excellent in all fields.'

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