A man who served on the National Security Council under presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan was in Iowa this week to talk about the U-S relationship with Saudi Arabia. Les Janka (Jank-uh:sounds like tank) now heads up the Council for American Saudi dialogue. Janka says his group of businessmen believe Saudi Arabia has gotten a bad wrap in the wake of problems in the Middle East. He says his council believes Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida are the real enemies, not Saudi Arabia. Janka says nobody questions that two-thirds of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudis, but he says Bin Laden chose Saudis because he wanted Americans to invade a Muslim country and wanted to undermine Saudi Arabia. He says Saudi Arabia is Bin Laden’s number one target, not the United States. Janka says criticism of Saudi Arabia did hurt the relationship with the U-S — but he says it’s improving. He says a new king there has helped, and he says the terrorist attacks against the Saudis and President Bush’s meeting with the Saudi ruler brought things back into focus. Janka says the Saudi Arabia has been a moderate influence in the Middle East and it’s important that the U-S keep up its relationship with them. He says Saudi Arabia is “the cradle of the Muslim world” and he says it’s better to have the country aligned with the U-S than it is to have it aligned with Bin Laden. Janka says they’re also important to the U-S when it comes to energy. He says they have been the major stabilizers opening up their valves and putting more oil on the market to keep prices stable. Janka says Saudi Arabia also offers opportunity to American business. Janka says a lot of oil revenue going into Saudi Arabia is being put into infrastructure and that opens opportunities for Americans to sell equipment and other things to the country. Janka spoke to two groups in eastern Iowa this week.
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