No Military Requests Made of Saudi Arabia, Officials Say
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 4, 2001 U.S. and Saudi officials put on a united front here early Oct. 4 to dispel rumors that Saudi Arabia had denied a U.S. request to launch air strikes from the desert kingdom.
America is grateful for the immediate outpouring of support from Saudi Arabia after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a joint press conference shortly after midnight Oct. 4. He and Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud met with Saudi and American media shortly after talks at the prince's palace here.
Saudi Arabia hasn't denied these requests because there have been no such requests from the U.S. government, the prince told reporters. "There were no such requests presented from the United States, and this matter was not a point of discussion between the two sides," he said through a translator.
Sultan also declined to address widely reported Saudi concerns over the possibility that the United States might launch bombing runs against Afghanistan's Taliban regime from within Saudi Arabia's borders. "We do not feel there are any specific strikes that are going to be taken against the Taliban," he said, but added that the Saudis believe they can't ask for things that are beyond their control.
The prince denied claims that Saudi Arabia has ignored President Bush's call for all countries to cut off funds of organizations that support terrorism. "If we find them, we will be taking all the necessary measures," he said.
Rumsfeld restated that a war on terrorism is in no way a war on Islam. "The United States has a large Moslem population, and more come there every day, every year because they like living there and we like having them," he said. America has a "history of shedding blood," he said, to help Islamic peoples in places as far-flung as Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia.
"And before the attack (Sept. 11), the United States gave something like $170 million in food aid to Moslems in Afghanistan," Rumsfeld said, underscoring his point that America's beef is not with the people of Afghanistan.
"It may serve some people's purpose to try to equate an effort against terrorism on this globe as in some way being against Moslem people, but that's flat false and untrue," he said vehemently. "The propagation of that nonsense serves only the terrorists."