In February, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah floated a Israeli/Palestinian peace plan during an interview with longtime New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The gist: the Arabs would recognize Israel in return for land being restored to the Palestinians. Not a radical idea by any means. But not to Clinton. He told Newsweek reporter Jonathan Alter that it was his actually idea and that he gave it to Abdullah during a visit to Saudi Arabia a week before the Friedman interview was made public. “He deserves credit for this,” says a longtime Clinton associate. “The president has been talking up this deal for months and for Friedman and the crown prince to get all the credit is just unfair. President Clinton has been much more engaged in this thing. Give credit where credit is due.”
If that’s the case, don’t blame Crown Prince Abdullah if he thought he’d purchased the idea from the ex-president. After all, Clinton’s main reason for traveling to Saudi Arabia was to raise money from the prince. According to a staffer with the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Saudi royal family contributed a huge amount to the library in the wake of the February meeting with Clinton. “It’s one of the biggest donations we’ve received to date,” says the staffer. “We’re still unsure of the actual amount, but it’s big, more than $10 million.”p> RANCH DRESSING br> All of this money Abdullah is throwing around has to have President Bush thinking about their upcoming meeting. The Crown Prince is expected to visit the United States in late April. And the White House is expecting that Bush and Abdullah will spend at least a day on Bush’s ranch in Texas. Is it too early to start raising funds for a George W. Bush Presidential Library? /p>
On a more serious note, the Bush administration is hoping that the Abdullah visit will give them some indication, albeit belated, as to just what their options are in the Middle East. It’s expected Abdullah will also meet with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice while in the U.S.
The White House is considering bringing in longtime Bush Sr. nemesis and Clinton emissary George Mitchell for a visit too, as the so-called “Mitchell Plan” appears to be another option the Bush foreign policy team is considering.p>
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