Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Official sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that a verbal altercation took place between Ambassador Ahmad Abdulaziz Qattan, the Saudi envoy to the Arab League [AL], and Yusuf al-Ahmad, Syria’s ambassador to Egypt and its envoy to the AL, during a meeting held earlier this week at the AL headquarters to discuss the Israeli attacks on Gaza and West Bank cities.
The Syrian envoy objected in his speech to what he called the profuse welcoming accorded to US President George Bush in the countries he visited recently and said that despite the pro-Israeli US policy some countries received him with open arms and hospitably. Qattan interposed and said he does not allow anyone to make insinuations about stands taken by his government and that the US President was accorded considerable reception because he is the President of a friendly and allied country that sent at one time half a million soldiers, 5,000 tanks, and 1,000 aircraft to protect the kingdom and expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait and had your ally at the time the Soviet Union did what the United States had done you would have welcomed the Russian leaders like conquerors in Damascus. But this is the difference between an ally and ally, between a friend and friend. The Saudi envoy added that he does not allow anyone to criticize his country’s policy in his presence otherwise the way would be open to criticize Syrian policy.
An Arab diplomatic source who took part in the meeting tried to downplay the impact or the extent of the Saudi-Syrian altercation and called it “a banter more than an altercation” and that it was no more than a strong banter between friends and colleagues. Qattan said when asked by Asharq al-Awsat about this information that he commented on his colleague Al-Ahmad’s remarks by saying: “We disagree with the Americans on some issues but we do not accept at all any insinuation or criticism against Saudi Arabia.” He added: “We received Bush with full appreciation. His country sent 5,000tanks and a huge army to expel Saddam from Kuwaiti. I asked the Syrian envoy: “What did your allies give you. But he told me after that (I did not mean anyone and I did not name any particular country).”
On the other hand, Ambassador. Yusuf al-Ahmad denied “there was a disagreement between him and the Saudi envoy to the AL at the meeting of the permanent envoys” and said in an exclusive statement to Asharq Al-Awsat: There was a difference in views. He considered this “something normal because each person has his own term of reference and background which lead to different views but absolutely not disagreements.” He described his relationship with Ambassador. Ahmad Qattan as “a relationship of strong friendship and very good.”