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Saudi Diplomat Says New King is Committed to Strong Relationship with America

A high-ranking Saudi diplomat has assured the United States that the kingdom's policies to fight terrorism and insure stable oil supplies will not change following the death of King Fahd. The deputy Saudi ambassador to the United States, Rihab Massoud, spoke to reporters in Washington.

Speaking at the Saudi embassy in Washington, Mr. Massoud said the kingdom stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all peaceful countries and will continue to be an active member of the world of nations.

His remarks followed the death of King Fahd at a Riyadh hospital early Monday and the transfer of power to his brother, the former Crown Prince Abdullah, who has assumed the Saudi throne.

Mr. Massoud says King Abdullah's relationship with America is strong and committed, pointing out that he recently met with President Bush at his Texas ranch, an honor reserved for only a few world leaders.

Mr. Massoud says the new king helped maintain the critical alliance between Saudi Arabia and America despite the tensions that occurred after it became known that 15 of the 19 hijackers who took part in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were from Saudi Arabia.

"During his tenure as a crown prince the relationship between our two nations was challenged as never before on September 11, 2001," Mr. Massoud says. "The response was certain and unwavering. Saudi Arabia will not stand for an evil cult using the Islamic faith as an excuse for mass violence."

Mr. Massoud says there will be no change in Saudi Arabia's policies on oil production and pricing, saying the government will remain opposed to instability in the energy markets.

"Saudi Arabia is the home to a quarter of the world's known oil supplies," Mr. Massoud says. "I would like to reassure you of my government's pledge to continue King Fahd's legacy of providing the globe with a stable and secure source of energy."

Mr. Massoud says the positive relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia began 60 years ago and he predicted it will continue to grow.