The discord arises from Saudi displeasure over the Obama administration's handling of the Egyptian crisis. "They have talked about [the necessity of] a dignified exit for Mubarak," said the official. "And they are judging, in their own minds…that we have pushed Mubarak to the side."
The official said the issue has not caused "a serious strain" in relations between Washington and Riyadh, but that it should not surprise anyone that the two capitals see the crisis differently. "When we say that we call for democracy, what we call 'democracy' the Saudis are liable to see as chaos," the official said.
By the same token, the official could not identify a Mideast state that has equaled the Saudis in their dissatisfaction with Washington's handling of the crisis. "The Saudis have always been the most conservative regime in the region," he said.
Meanwhile, protesters enraged by Mubarak's latest refusal to step down have promised massive demonstrations -- possibly including a march on the presidential palace.
They have warned that Egypt could explode in violence and have pleaded for the military to intervene.
Mubarak gave most of his powers to his vice president but refused to resign or leave the country late Thursday, hours after the military made moves that had all the markings of a coup. The military has offered no response following Mubarak's speech, and their position remains ambiguous.
Protest spokesman Mohammed Mustapha says "huge numbers" of protesters are expected Friday. TV reports and witnesses say hundreds already have gathered outside the palace.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show "The Foxhole."