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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Unprecedented Cooperation with FBI From Saudi Arabia

Aired May 13, 2003 - 19:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There has already been speculation about how yesterday's attack will affect U.S.-Saudi relations. State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel joins us from Washington -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson, there are all sort of questions out there as to where the U.S.-Saudi relationship will go from here.

I can tell you that one State Department official I spoke with earlier today described the relationship, at least the cooperation that's happened in the last 24 hours, as being outstanding. He said to his memory he can't recall another incident in which there was such active cooperation in improving, getting FBI teams headed over to the region.

But remember, these are early days. Khobar Towers is still fresh in the minds of many investigators. U.S. officials felt they did not get the kind of cooperation they needed from the Saudis back then -- Anderson.

COOPER: But as of now, it seems, they are getting a high level of cooperation?

KOPPEL: At this stage they say that they are, yes. They got approval for investigators to head over immediately. They're on planes, they're on their way. They were taken to the scene immediately, I guess given access to the crime scene, which is important especially in the early hours.

COOPER: The U.S. military is pulling out of Saudi Arabia, obviously. We all know that. Where do U.S. officials see the state of relationships, diplomatically between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia?

KOPPEL: Well, at this stage they feel that the relationship is certainly moving in a more positive direction. This is something that the U.S. knows groups like al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden have used as a pretext for targeting Americans, that is, the presence of the U.S. military on Saudi soil, which is home to two of Islam's holiest sites.

So the idea that the U.S. military would be gradually phasing out and moving eventually to Qatar is a good thing.

You've also got the idea that the war is over and that the U.S. is more actively engaged on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. That's something the Saudis have been pushing for. So they feel that it's moving in a more positive direction, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Andrea Koppel, thanks very much, live from the State Department.

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