View Full Version : Bush: Fahd Was 'Friend And Ally'

08-01-2005, 07:35 PM
Bush: Fahd was 'friend and ally'
U.S. president calls new Saudi king


Monday, August 1, 2005 Posted: 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush called newly appointed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Monday to express condolences over the death of King Fahd and to congratulate Abdullah on his succession to the throne. Bush later called Fahd "a friend and ally of the United States for decades."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who announced the phone call, said a U.S. delegation would attend Fahd's funeral. He said the delegation hasn't been chosen yet. Bush will not attend the services, McClellan said.

Fahd died Monday and Abdullah, his 81-year-old half brother, was quickly named to replace him. (Full story)

Abdullah has been the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia since Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995.

In separate statements, Bush said he was saddened by Fahd's death and pleased that Abdullah, whom he called "my friend," was now the king.

"We wish Saudi Arabia peace and prosperity under his leadership. I have spoken to the new king, and the United States looks forward to continuing the close partnership between our two countries," Bush said in the statement.

Bush said he was "deeply saddened" by Fahd's death, calling him "a man of wisdom and a leader who commanded respect throughout the entire world."

The White House was notified of Fahd's death by the government of Saudi Arabia at about 2:30 a.m. ET, but Bush was not told until later Monday morning when he began his work day in the Oval Office, McClellan said.

The strong U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia was strained with the advent of potent, anti-Western terrorism, manifested by the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Fifteen of the 19 suicide bombers were Saudis. The kingdom mounted an aggressive anti-terror campaign, with arrests and a clampdown on Saudi contributions to charities that apparently channeled some money to militant groups.

In the meantime, the Saudi face in Washington is changing.

Last month, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years, resigned. He is being replaced by Prince Turki bin al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence and current ambassador to Britain.

Bandar, meanwhile, was rumored to be interested in a security post in Riyadh. Last November he spoke out against the decapitation in Iraq of American Nicholas Berg, calling the execution "criminal and inhuman."

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