A senior official at the Saudi embassy, however, said that the 10 do not work for the Saudi Foreign Ministry but are employes of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Sciences (IAIS) in Washington.

"The US State Department has not clarified the issue yet," our correspondent said. 

The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has been under stress since the 11 September attacks on the US as most of those blamed for the attacks were Saudi nationals.

9/11 report

In July 2003, the US released a 900-page report which linked the kingdom with the attacks. Twenty eight pages  were blanked out from the report. The pages reportedly detail Saudi failure to clamp down on the al-Qaida despite persistent US alerts since 1996. The Kingdom dismissed the report as baseless.

Following the attacks, the US has been pressuring Saudi Arabia to reform its intergovernmental affairs. Last year, the US pulled out 10,000 military personnel from Saudi Arabia.