Bush names new ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Sunday, November 23, 2003

President George Bush has named a new ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Bush nominated Jim Oberwetter to become Washington's new ambassador to Riyad. Oberwetter has been described as an oil executive with close personal ties to Bush.

"He is an able and outstanding representative," State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. "If confirmed, he would be an able and outstanding representative of the president to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Oberwetter replaced Robert Jordan, who was said to have been forced to cut short his term as ambassador. Saudi opposition sources asserted that Jordan had angered the Saudi leadership by discussing the succession issue.

U.S. officials confirmed that Riyad had urged for the replacement of Jordan. The officials said Bush sought a confidante who would focus on preserving relations with the kingdom amid the tension between Riyad and Washington in wake of the Al Qaida attacks in 2001.

"I don't think it would be wrong to say that we believe that this man is the best man for the job because he has the President's confidence, if confirmed," Ereli said.

The officials said the departure of Jordan has led to the transfer of other senior diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Riyad.

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