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Saudi Warns U.S. on Moving Embassy

April 12, 1984
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Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States warned against moves in Congress to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In an appearance before the Washington Press Club yesterday, Prince Bandar Bin-Sultan also warned that if the U.S. refuses to sell weapons to Arab countries they will purchase their arms in the Soviet Union, England or France.

Calling on the U.S. to play a more even-handed role in the Middle East, Bandar said “We believe strongly that no change should be done in the Jerusalem situation” until the status of the city is settled by negotiations. Moving the Embassy at this time, he said, “will profoundly affect one billion Moslems around the world like you have never seen it before.”

The Saudi envoy was especially critical of the U.S. for the withdrawal of a proposed sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia and Jordan last month under what he claimed was pressure from Israel’s supporters in Congress. He said this spotlighted “a very dangerous trend.”

He noted that U.S. trade with Arab nations totalled $13 billion a year, creating some 600,000 jobs. “The Israelis are doing their best to drive us out of the American market, particularly in weapons,” Bandar said. “We are determined to defend ourselves, and we will get those weapons anywhere.” He asked if Israeli security and U.S. interests would be served if the Arabs took their arms business elsewhere.

Bandar said that there is a perception among Arabs that the U.S. applies two standards, “one for the Palestinians and the other for the rest of the world” and that whenever an American President tries to be move even-handed in the Mideast “the Israelis jump on him.”

He said that U.S. relations with the Arabs were not “at a high peak at this time,” and added: “You’ve got to stop looking at us as just oil and dollars and look at us as human beings.”

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