August 3, 2006

Saudi Arabia rules out oil weapon in Mideast crisis

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude
exporter, believes oil should not be used as a weapon because
it is the economic lifeline of Arab states, its foreign
minister said.

Asked whether the oil weapon should be used if the conflict
between Israel and Lebanon escalates, Prince Saud al-Faisal
said: "The two issues should not be mixed because oil is among
the economic capabilities that countries... need to meet their
obligations toward their citizens.

"If we ignore this reality and start asking that the
foundations of our life (be used) and enter into reckless
adventures, the first to be hurt will be our citizens and no
wise government can accept this," he told a news conference.

His comments were carried on the official Saudi Press
Agency late on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and other U.S.-allied Gulf members of the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have
made clear in the past they do not intend to repeat the 1973
Arab oil embargo, sanctioned by Saudi Arabia's then King Faisal
to punish the West for backing Israel in the Arab-Israeli war.

Saudi Arabia is the largest producer in OPEC.

Global oil prices hit a record-high of $78.40 a barrel last
month on fears that the Israeli-Lebanese conflict could spread
to Middle East oil producers.

Saudi Arabia, a key regional U.S. ally, has criticized
Washington for not pressing for an immediate ceasefire and has
warned that Israeli militarism could trigger a wider conflict
in the region.