Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal gave an interview to Andrea Mitchell that was aired on NBC's 'Today' show on Monday morning, April 26, 2004. The interview covered Iraq, terrorist funding, and oil.
CAMPBELL BROWN: Now an NBC News exclusive, with new information about the fight against al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia's early efforts in the war against Iraq. NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, joins us now. Andrea, good morning.
MS. MITCHELL: Good morning, Campbell. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, says the Saudis were concerned that the U.S. was not sending enough troops to secure Iraq. So before the war, they recommended that the U.S. pay Saddam's army for three months to buy their loyalty rather than make them disband.
PRINCE SAUD: We thought a better idea would be to tell the army that any section of it that wants to cooperate with the alliance forces, they would be welcomed, would be a better idea than fighting a war.
MS. MITCHELL: What about Bob Woodward's revelation that the White House gave the Saudis two months' warning of the decision to attack Iraq?
PRINCE SAUD: It was absolutely normal that they would consult with us on these issues. The thing that I'm shocked about is why these consultations are viewed as something suspicious.
MS. MITCHELL: With Saudi Arabia now reeling from suicide bombings, NBC News has learned that the Saudis have asked the U.S. for additional help to combat al Qaeda.
(To Prince Saud.) Do you feel that Saudi Arabia was too lax in the past in --
PRINCE SAUD: We were all too lax. A lot of money was going from this country to al Qaeda. We were all too lax.
MS. MITCHELL: Only two years ago, the Saudis raised $92 million for Palestinian suicide bombers. But the foreign minister claims they've now shut down the flow of Saudi money to terrorists.
PRINCE SAUD: Now not a penny is going from Saudi Arabia.
MS. MITCHELL: You don't think a penny is going from Saudi Arabia to al Qaeda?
PRINCE SAUD: I don't think so, because the controls are really very stringent.
MS. MITCHELL: You're not funding Hamas?
PRINCE SAUD: Absolutely not.
MS. MITCHELL: Not funding suicide bombers?
PRINCE SAUD: Not funding Hamas or suicide bombers.
MS. MITCHELL: And as to allegations in the Woodward book that the Saudis made a deal with the White House to cut oil prices below $28 a barrel in time for the election --
PRINCE SAUD: That is a silly notion to have, and it has not happened.
MS. MITCHELL: If there was a commitment to keep the price between $22 and $28, why is it so much higher?
PRINCE SAUD: Because of supply-and-demand conditions.
MS. MITCHELL: But the price of oil still is way higher than $28 a barrel.
PRINCE SAUD: Be patient. This is the beginning. It will come down.
MS. MITCHELL: Timed for the election?
PRINCE SAUD: No, timed for supply and demand. Election is (vote?) between the Democrats or the Republicans. Oil is supply and demand.
(End of videotape.)
MS. MITCHELL: The Saudi foreign minister also told us that the Arab world is angry at what they see as a shift in U.S. policy toward Israel. In fact, we have learned that the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, has just sent a letter to President Bush complaining about the president's new Mideast policy.