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Saudi Denies Telling Obama Iran and Israel Should not Exist

Saudi King Abdullah is known for his dislike of Israel and Shi’ite-led Iran, but the monarchy denied he told Obama both countries should not exist
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 7/4/2010, 3:55 PM / Last Update: 7/4/2010, 4:06 PM

Saudi embassy

The Saudi Arabia monarchy has denied a report in the French newspaper Le Figaro that King Abdullah told U.S. President Barack Obama that the countries of Iran and Israel should not exist. The king allegedly made the remark after the May 31 flotilla clash between Israeli Navy commandos and Turkish terror activists.

He visited President Obama at the White House last week.

The report is "untrue altogether,” an official source told the Saudi Press Agency. “The positions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are clear and declared," the source added.

The report was given credence because it was written by a journalist who has a respected reputation as a Middle East specialist. Le Figaro reported that the quote was confirmed by military and diplomatic sources.

King Abdullah has said he is concerned by the growing nuclear threat posed by Iran. As a Persian and not an Arab country, Iran is not part of the Arab League, is distrusted by most Muslim states in the region, and threatens to become the dominant power in the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, and distances itself from any association with Israel officials or even shaking hands with them. The Saudi 2002 Initiative calls on Israel to surrender all of the land restored to the country in the Six Day War in 1967, in return for normalization of relations with the Arab world. There is no specific mention of recognizing Israel as a country.