Oil, Gulf Stability Link U.S., Saudis

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WASHINGTON–There are two key interests that hold the United States and Saudi Arabia together: a secure Persian Gulf, and a steady oil supply. Allegations that the Saudi ambassador’s wife may have sent money to Sept. 11 hijackers are not likely to unravel the ties.

U.S. officials, still courting Saudi cooperation in a possible war with Iraq, played down any fissures on Monday. And they made clear that the U.S.-Saudi relationship is undamaged.

“The Saudi government is a good partner,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said as he refused to discuss an FBI investigation into the matter.

On Capitol Hill, where senators complained bitterly about the Saudis a day before, there was a note of caution. “It’s important for us to get all the facts before we come to any conclusion,” said Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.