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U.S. Urges Saudi Financial Aid to P.A.

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirmed that the U.S. wants Saudi Arabia to give financial assistance to the Palestinians in the run-up to Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, according to news reports.

Rice said she discussed the need to financially support the Palestinians with Saudi Crown Prince ‘Abdallah this week during his trip to Washington where he also met with U.S. President George W. Bush.

The White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other countries should do what they can to help the Palestinians develop institutions of a democratic state which is “prepared to take responsibility for the territory that they are going to get.”

Israel plans to pull out civilians and troops from Gaza later this year.

Bush hosted the Saudi prince at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on Monday.

Although the price of oil, terror and the Middle East peace process were said to top the agenda of the first meeting in three years between the two leaders, oil clearly dominated.

President Bush urged the Saudi prince to significantly increase oil production in order to lower prices – an issue seen as harming the president’s popularity. The Saudi leader countered by saying that the issue is “not really one of crude oil production. The issue is one of product-refining and distribution.” Bush also pressed for Saudi democratization and discussed Saudi Arabia’s internal war against terror.