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Bush Visit, Arms Deal Put Focus on U.S.-Saudi Relations

President Bush made his first trip to Saudi Arabia on Monday in a bid to gain support for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, while the White House announced a $20 billion weapons deal with the powerful Saudi kingdom. Experts examine the state of U.S.-Saudi relations.

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    It was the president's first visit to the Saudi kingdom, a longtime U.S. ally in the Middle East.

    Mr. Bush was greeted by King Abdullah, leader of the Arab world's richest country. The kingdom produces nearly a third of the world's oil, now nearing $100 a barrel.

    President Bush raised concerns about the rising cost of oil during his meetings in the gulf.

    The presidential trip to Riyadh came on the same day the Bush administration notified Congress of a $20 billion arms sale to the Saudis. It includes precision-guided bombs.

    Arms deals with the Saudis and other gulf states are meant to bolster defenses against Iran, Saudi Arabia's Shiite neighbor to the north.

    Mr. Bush urged the Gulf states to mobilize against Iran yesterday on a stop in the United Arab Emirates.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, so the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the gulf and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.


    Mr. Bush also sought Saudi support for his Middle East peace plan after meeting with both Israelis and Palestinians last week. The president has predicted there will be a Middle East peace treaty before he leaves office.