Saudia Arabia's Foreign Minister Supports U.S. Policy in Middle East

Two days after expressing qualms about U.S. policy in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister gave a strong vote of confidence Friday to President Bush's approach.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's longtime foreign minister, met at the White House with Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Saud said they talked about Iraq, Iran and other issues.

"I came out fully convinced that the president is doing everything that he can to bring stability and security to the region of the Middle East," Saud told reporters in the White House driveway before departing.

Two days earlier, Saud had complained about the Bush administration's decision to shut off aid to the Palestinian government and isolate its new Hamas leadership, saying that would only radicalize a destitute population and set back the cause of peace with Israel.

"We are arguing the point, needless to say, with them strenuously," Saud told reporters then.

He said he had argued against cutting U.S. and European aid to the Palestinian government at a meeting at the United Nations last week with Rice and other potential Mideast peacemakers.

"We thought that was the wrong policy," Saud said.

Hamas, which refuses to renounce violence and has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings against Israel, is considered a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union. U.S. law forbids direct contact with Hamas, or financial support for it.