George W Bush has left Israel for Saudi Arabia on the next leg of his Middle East tour. As the US president arrived in Riyadh, the White House announced that the US – the world’s largest energy consumer – had agreed to help protect the oil resources of the world’s top exporter, Saudi Arabia.
The US leader is also expected to try to shore up support in his efforts to contain Iran’s growing influence. In a speech before the Israeli parliament, Bush reiterated his pledge to oppose Iran’s nuclear power. He also reassured prime minister Ehud Olmert of the US’s unwavering support, as the state of Israel celebrated its 60th birthday.
Timed to coincide with Bush’s visit and the anniversary, an audio tape allegedly recorded by Osama in Laden was posted on an Islamist website. In it, the Al Qaeda laeder says Israel’s celebrations were a reminder that it did not exist 60 years ago and had been established on land seized from Palestinians by force.