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Friday, December 22, 2006

Next US Saudi envoy is king's ex-foreign advisor

Saudi Arabia's next ambassador to the United States will be Adel al-Jubeir, a young US-educated diplomat who was drafted by the now-king in 2001 to repair a Saudi image in America that had been shattered by the Sept. 11 attacks.

A Saudi source said Thursday that al-Jubeir, who was foreign affairs adviser to King Abdullah when he was crown prince, will be appointed at the end of January or early in February. The Washington Post reported that the State Department already has been informed of the impending appointment.

Saudi Arabia has had only two ambassadors in the past 23 years: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who left 1 1/2 years ago after 22 years and now is the Saudi national security adviser; and Prince Turki al-Faisal, who quit this month after 15 months on the job.

Al-Jubeir, a commoner, was educated in Texas, at North Texas University, and in Washington at Georgetown University. A month after the 2001 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 Arab hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, Abdullah sent al-Jubeir to the United States on an open-ended mission to rebuild Saudi Arabia's image in the United States.

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