saudi al-faisal 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The US standing in the Middle East is at an all-time low and can be helped only by pressing Israel to relinquish all occupied Arab land and Jerusalem to the Palestinians, says Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.
"We want you to remain friends with Israel," Saudi Ambassador Turki al-Faisal said during a question and answer session. "But that friendship should be used to push Israel" to relinquish the land the Arabs lost in the 1967 Six-Day War and provide the Palestinians with a state they have been denied for more than a half-century, the prince said.
"The United States is the only one that can deliver," the ambassador said. "The basic interest of the United States is for peace to reign in our part of the world."
In remarks he prepared for delivery to the National Council on US-Arab Relations, a private group that presents the Arab view on issues, Prince Turki said, "It is no secret that US standing in the Middle East is at an all-time low."
In the prepared text of his speech, distributed to reporters at the luncheon, he said, "It is not a matter of military strength or a shift in rhetoric, but rather a matter of basic understanding of the needs of the people who are affected by US political decisions."
He added, "If the US is going to help itself, its policy needs to change in the Middle East."
President George W. Bush has supported establishment of a Palestinian state on land now held by Israel. He has not attempted to define the future of Jerusalem, or say how much occupied land should be surrendered.
Prince Turki said any of several peace plans - including one by the Arab kingdom and another by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia _ is preferable to inaction. In previous plans, the Jerusalem question has been put off to be among the last contentious items decided.
"No one has put his foot forward," the ambassador said in rejecting "excuses that won't do" such as waiting for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to assert full control of the Palestinian people before launching negotiations.