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Armitage: al-Qaida Plans To Bring Down Saudi Govt

Armitage: Objective of al-Qaida is "to bring down the Saudi government"

Saudi Arabia vowed militants would not be able to destabilize it after a car bomb attack in the capital killed at least 17 people at a Riyadh housing compound, but the United States warned al Qaeda might be planning more attacks. The Saudi Kingdom said it would hunt down those behind the attack.

The former Saudi intelligence chief, describing the compound of mostly Arab expatriate workers as a soft target, said the Kingdom had had successes against militants in the last six months.

U.S.-Saudi relations came under strain after the September 11 attacks and the Gulf Arab state is under intense pressure to crack down on al Qaeda cells and implement so-called reforms.

In the United States especially, there have been suggestions Saudi Arabia should have done more, long ago, to combat the al Qaeda threat. Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal rejected the suggestion that Saudi Arabia was late to join the fight against militants.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal said, "I think that is an unfair statement, because if you have listened to President Bush from the beginning of the war on terrorism in 2001, September 11, he has been praising the kingdom for all of the cooperation it has been giving."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who arrived in Riyadh on Sunday, told reporters he couldn't say that Sunday's attack was the only or the last attack. Armitage met Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in Riyadh late Sunday.

The official SPA news agency, which reported the meeting, did not give details about the talks, but Armitage said on arrival earlier in the evening the objective of al-Qaida is "to bring down the Saudi government as well as to create fear and spread terror".

However he added the exchange of information with Saudi authorities is "good," in reference to cooperation in the intelligence issue. The US official said he would discuss efforts to fight so-called terrorism and other bilateral and regional issues with Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.

SPA reported that US President George W. Bush phoned Abdullah to denounce the Saturday night bombing in the Saudi capital late Saturday and express Washington's solidarity with Riyadh in what he described as its drive to "eradicate terrorism in all its forms."

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