Prince Turki Al-Faisal

Article excerpt

It is a tough time to be Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.

Many Americans have not forgotten that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were Saudis. And soaring gasoline prices are a constant reminder of the market clout exercised by Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, in dealing with the US, the world's largest oil consumer.

Prince Turki al-Faisal has served as Washington-based ambassador for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2005. He is the son of former Saudi King Faisal and brother of the nation's current foreign minister.

The ambassador is no stranger to the US. He came to this country at age 14 to attend the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and went on to be a member of the class of 1968 at Georgetown University, along with former President Bill Clinton.

From 1977 to 2001, the prince led his country's external intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate. In a recent speech, he said he spent 30 years in the intelligence business "without speaking to anybody." All that changed in 2002, when he was named as Saudi Arabia's ambassador in London.

Here are excerpts from Prince Turki's remarks at Tuesday's breakfast:

On US - Saudi relations:

"It is a relationship of people who are interested in each other, who find benefit from each other, and who over the past 70 years or so have managed to overcome great difficulty in remaining friends.

On the causes of higher oil prices:

"The main causes for the rise in prices as I have been told by experts ... are threefold. One is the general insecurity in the areas that produce oil, whether it is the Middle East or Nigeria or even your relationship with Venezuela.... Our estimation is that there is between $15 and $20 extra on the price of oil [per barrel] due to that. The other matter that is equally crucial and important is the lack of refining capacity worldwide."

On the danger of military action against Iran:

"We are against any military conflict in the Gulf whose aim is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear knowhow. We think [it would be] catastrophic to us because ... the immediate result of course is ... another spike in oil prices. And this time nobody knows how high up the price will go. …