Saudis won't sign on to US isolation of Hamas

Saudi Arabia refused Wednesday to join an American effort to deny foreign aid to a Palestinian government led by Hamas, the second Arab ally in two days to rebuff Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice sat at Saud's side as he spoke, as she had stood by on Tuesday when Saud's Egyptian counterpart said it was premature to cut off aid to a Hamas-led government. The top US diplomat is making her first visit to the Middle East since the Hamas sweep in Palestinian elections last month stunned Washington and threatened the already fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Both Saud and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the world should not prejudge Hamas, signaling that the Arab world, like some European countries and Russia, is hedging its bets about whether and when to sever financial ties that keep the cash-strapped Palestinian government afloat. The Saudis told the United States on Wednesday that they plan to continue sending approximately $15 million a month to the Palestinian government, US officials said on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.