Photo Op with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
April 25, 2002
4:06 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I was honored to welcome Crown Prince Abdallah
to my ranch, a place that is very special for me, and a place where I welcome
special guests to our country. The Crown Prince and I had a very cordial meeting
that confirmed the strong relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States
Our partnership is important to both our nations. And it is important to the
cause of peace and stability in the Middle East and the world. We discussed
the critical importance of the war on terror. Much of our discussion centered
on the Middle East, and how to defuse the current situation so we can get back
on the path to peace.
Our two nations share a vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side
by side in peace and security. I reiterated that all parties have responsibilities
to help achieve that vision. The Palestinian Authority must do more to stop
terror. Israel must finish its withdrawal, including resolution of standoff
-- standoffs in Ramallah and Bethelem, in a non-violent way.
We discussed the need for Arab states to condemn terror, to stop incitement
of violence, and as part of a long-term peace, to accept Israel as a nation
and a neighbor. We also agreed the world must join in offering humanitarian
aid to the many innocent Palestinians who are suffering.
I told the Crown Prince how much I appreciate his vision for a peaceful and
integrated Middle East, and how I appreciated his leadership in helping rally
the Arab world toward that vision. I also appreciated the Crown Prince's assurance
that Saudi Arabia condemns terror.
The Crown Prince is going to be in America for several more days, and officials
from both our governments will be continuing our discussions with the hope that
our efforts can help return us to the path of peace -- a lasting peace.
I'll answer a couple of questions. Sondra.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Saudi officials have taken strong issue with your characterization
of Prime Minister Sharon as a man of peace, and say that your tolerance of what
he's doing risks damage to U.S.-Arab relations. Were you and the Crown Prince
able to bridge differences over that issue, and find ways to fix the fragile
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, one of the really positive things out of
this meeting was the fact that the Crown Prince and I established a strong personal
bond. We spent a lot of time alone, discussing our respective visions, talking
about our families. I was most interested in learning about how he thought about
things. I'm convinced that the stronger our personal bond is, the more likely
it is relations between our country will be strong.
I made it clear to him that I expected Israel to withdraw, just like I've made
it clear to Israel. And we expect them to be finished. He knows my position.
He also knows that I will work for peace, I will bring parties along. But I
think he recognizes that America can't do it alone, that it's going to require
a unified effort. And one of the main things about this visit was to solidify
He's a man with enormous influence in the Middle East. I respect that a lot,
and I'm confident we can work together to achieve a peace.
QUESTION: Mr. President, the Crown Prince raised the prospect of Saudi support
for Iraq's oil embargo, and are you concerned that Arab nations might use oil
as a -- try to use oil as a bargaining chip in the Middle East crisis?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Saudi Arabia made it clear, and has made it clear publicly,
that they will not use oil as a weapon. And I appreciate that, respect that,
and expect that to be the case.
QUESTION: Mr. President, to follow on what Sondra asked you, do you feel like
you made some personal headway in meeting with the Prince today in reassuring
him of the United States belief that all parties in the region must work harder
THE PRESIDENT: I --
QUESTION: -- do you feel like -- do you feel like you need to convey this message
perhaps in a stronger way by sending somebody to the region to meet with other
Arab leaders who are raising concerns along these lines?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Stretch, we just sent somebody to the region. And that
somebody has just returned from the region. And his name is Colin Powell. And
we're exploring all options. A lot of our discussion with the Saudi delegation
was how to get back on the path to peace. Clearly, there's some things that
must be done in the short run -- finish the withdrawal by Israel, for the Palestinian
Authority to clamp down on terror. We discussed that in very plain and straightforward
As to where we head from now, one of the things that I think is important for
the Crown Prince to have heard is we're interested in his advice, we're interested
in his counsel. We share a vision and I reminded him how much I appreciated
his statement toward Israel. I thought that was a breakthrough moment. And it
-- and then he went and sold that in Beirut, and I appreciated that, as well.
So there's a shared vision. And as to how to achieve that vision is something
we must consult with our friends. And that's what this meeting was about. It
went on quite a while because there was a lot to discuss, plus, I want you to
know, I had the honor of showing him my ranch. He's a man who's got a farm and
he understands the land, and I really took great delight in being able to drive
him around in a pickup truck and showing him the trees and my favorite spots.
And we saw a wild turkey, which was good. But we had a very good discussion,
and I'm honored he came to visit.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you believe -- you said that the Crown Prince is
against terror. Do you think he will speak out? Did he make any promises about
speaking out? Should he speak out? And secondarily, in Saudi Arabia, do you
believe the leadership is doing enough to deal with their own problems with
terrorism that comes out of their own country? Fifteen of the 19 hijackers --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I -- the Crown Prince has been very strong in condemning
the murder of U.S. citizens. He's been very strong about condemning those who
committed those murders. And I appreciate that a lot. Right after 9/11, he was
one of the strongest voices of condemnation. He understands how devious Osama
bin Laden has been. He knows that -- that anybody who -- you know, that a strategy
by some would be to split the United States and Saudi Arabia. It's a strong
and important friendship, and he knows that and I know that, and were not going
to let that happen. So he's been very strong in the condemnation of terror,
for which I'm grateful.
And we're constantly working with him and his government on intelligence-sharing
and cutting off money. And we're reminding him on occasion where we find money
flows, and the government has been acting, and I appreciate that very much.
He's got a -- right now we're working on an issue in the border region with
Yemen to make sure that Yemen doesn't become a haven for al Qaeda killers. And
I appreciate his cooperation on that matter, as well. It's in his interest that
we rout out terror.