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Saudi Prince Reaffirms Position Against Oil Embargo During Moscow Visit - 2002-04-19

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has reaffirmed that his country would not support an Arab world oil embargo in support of the Palestinian uprising. Prince Saud-al Faisal has been meeting with Russian leaders in Moscow, and says his country would support the Palestinians in other ways.

Prince Saud al-Faisal told journalists in Moscow that imposing an oil embargo would be like "cutting off your nose to spite your face." He said oil is not a "weapon" or a "tank," but instead should be used for "investment, welfare and development."

The Saudi minister was responding to a question about whether Riyadh would support a 30-day oil stoppage. Iraq has halted oil exports for a month, and urged other countries in the region to impose an embargo. Iran has said it might do so, but only if other oil producers join in. Saudi Arabia rejected the idea from the start.

Prince Saud al-Faisal held talks here in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. He has also met with Russian lawmakers. Following their meeting, President Putin repeated his support for the Middle East peace plan put forth by Saudi Arabia. The plan offers Israel normal relations with Arab countries in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from land occupied in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

President Putin also voiced great concern for the fate of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who has been besieged in his West Bank headquarters by Israeli troops. Israel launched its military offensive in the Palestinian-controlled areas late last month in response to a series of deadly suicide bombings against Israelis.

Prince Saud al-Faisal accused Israel of using the pretext of fighting terrorism to repress the Palestinian people. He said Israel's actions are spreading, what he called, "the seeds of extremism" among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world.