Bush trip round-up

The World

MA noted that the Bush family and the Saudi Royal Family have a long history together, �The Saudi Royal Family loved Bush, the father. And I think when President Bush, the son, came into office, they were hopeful he would be like his father�more pragmatic, more trying to get coalitions together, and I think that frankly when you talk to Saudi experts in the United States, they feel there’s been a level of disappointment from the Saudis in President Bush. Now they’re not going to say that publicly, they’re very polite, they’re going to give him a great show here, the King is going to take the President to his horse farm. But I think there is a level of disappointment in the son in that he has not quite measured up to the father.� LM �when it comes to Iran specifically, since we’ve been hearing the President talk a lot about this especially in the last couple days, Saudi Arabia and Iran have actually been getting along fairly well of late. What does President Bush have to say to Saudi leaders that might want to make the country adopt a more bellicose relationship with Iran?� MA �Well I don’t think Saudi Arabia wants to have a bellicose relationship with Iran. I think the issue is the Saudis from their point of view are uncertain about American intentions with respect to Iran. I think one of the striking things about this trip is just how really intent he is on painting a stark and dire portrait of Iran.� LM �Is it clear to what end he is doing that?� MA �I think the President in his mind does not want to go to war in Iran. I think the President basically feels that he would like to get more diplomatic, financial, intelligence pressure on Iran. Because his theory is if you isolate Iran, eventually they’re going to come around. Now if that theory is accurate or not, I can’t tell you, but that’s what his theory is.� LM �is the President trying to before he leaves extract any kind of promise from Saudi Arabia? What is trying to get from the trip specifically to Saudi Arabia?� MA �I don’t think we really know that, it’s a very good question. I think one thing that’s notable about this trip is the president is going to be spending really about a day and a half in very private sessions with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who does not like diplomacy by telephone. And this is the first time they have met in three years. And I think the President sees King Abdullah as an important figure in the kind of diplomacy he wants to wage on this issue. So I think what you’re going to see is very private, intimate conversations that unfold over the next day or two in which frankly I think we’re not going to know what decisions, if any, were made until weeks or months after the fact.�

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