Riyadh pledges to step up terror fight

The administration of Saudi Arabia's new King Abdullah will step up cooperation with the United States in the fight against the "evil cult" of terrorism, a top official of the oil-rich state has said.

    New king, Abdullah (L), already has good relations with the US

    Rehab Massoud, the charge d'affaires at Riyadh's embassy in Washington, said on Monday that cooperation in the US-led "war on terror" would be the cornerstone of relations between the two allies, aside from working together in the economic field. 

    "Saudi Arabia will not stand for an evil cult using the Islamic faith as an excuse for mass violence," he told a news conference called to reaffirm Riyadh's close ties with Washington under King Abdullah's leadership.
    He said Abdullah, in talks with US President George Bush at his Texas ranch during his visit to Washington in April, had "renewed our desire to be an ally both economically and in the war on terrorism".
    9/11 tensions

    The US-Saudi Arabia alliance was harshly tested by the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States in which 15 of 19 hijackers were Saudi.

    "Saudi Arabia will not stand for an evil cult using the Islamic faith as an excuse for mass violence"

    Rehab Massoud, Saudi embassy charge d'affaires, Washington

    But tensions began easing when Saudi Arabia, often accused in Washington of being lenient with "terrorists", launched its own crackdown on al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden's disciples.
    "During his tenure as crown prince, the relationship between our two nations was challenged as never before on 11 September 2001," Massoud said.

    "The response was certain and unwavering" and relations "between our two great nations [will] become even stronger", he said.
    London attacks connection

    Massoud also said Saudi authorities would cooperate closely with British investigators over the recent London bomb attacks.

    A British paper says two London
    bomb suspects had Saudi links

    Two of the men arrested for trying to bomb London's transport system on 21 July had links with Saudi Arabia, the British Daily Telegraph newspaper reported without elaborating on Monday. 

    Hamdi Issac, also known as Hussain Osman, who was arrested on Friday in Rome, made a mobile telephone phone call to Saudi Arabia shortly before his arrest.
    Friends of Muktar Said Ibrahim, who was captured after a siege in west London on Friday, said he went to Saudi Arabia in 2003 for two or three months for a "training course".
    Saudi cooperation

    He is said to have family in Saudi Arabia and lived there before coming to Britain as a teenager.
    "We have been in constant touch with British as well as the American entities here and we will continue to do so," Massoud said, adding that Riyadh had made a commitment to swiftly answer any questions pertaining to the probe.
    "For instance, we have made a commitment that questions to be answered [will take] no more than two hours - to indicate how serious we are taking this latest case in Britain," he said.
    "So any enquiries we have received from Britain have been answered in less than two hours."



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