Osama bin Laden today denounced Barack Obama as the US president arrived in Saudi Arabia at the start of a short Middle East tour in his continuing effort to reach out to the Muslim world.
In an audio recording timed for Obama's latest overture, the al-Qaida leader said the US leader had planted seeds of "revenge and hatred" towards the US in the Muslim world, al-Jazeera television reported.
It reported Bin Laden as saying that Obama was continuing in the steps of his predecessor, George Bush, and warning Americans to be prepared for the consequences of the White House's policies.
News of the recording came after Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia at a start of a trip that will also take him to Egypt, where he will deliver an eagerly awaited speech at Cairo University.
Obama was greeted at Riyadh's main airport by King Abdullah after an overnight flight from Washington. A band played The Star-Spangled Banner and each leader shook hands with members of his counterpart's entourage.
Perched on ornate chairs behind a flower arrangement, Obama and Abdullah chatted briefly in public and shook hands before holding private talks on a range of issues expected to include the Arab-Israeli conflict, diplomatic overtures toward Iran and oil prices.
After talks in Riyadh, Obama will deliver a keynote speech in Cairo. While giving away few clues on what he would say, Obama has made it clear that he will not be making a serious attack on Egypt's, and the region's, human rights record. He described the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, as a "stalwart ally" and said that the job of the US is "not to lecture".
Obama this week said he thought that democratic rights reflected universal – not just western – values, but added: "The danger I think is that when the US or any country thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and a different culture … I think the thing we can do most importantly is serve as a role model."
Saudi Arabia can be expected to press Obama to exert more pressure on the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who is resisting the idea of Palestinian statehood and has rebuffed US calls to halt the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. King Abdullah put forward a peace plan in 2002 offering Israel recognition in return for its withdrawal from Arab land occupied in the 1967 war and a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Saudi Arabia believes faltering peace efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have given Iran opportunities to expand its regional influence through Islamist groups such as Hamas, as well as its Shia Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. Afghanistan and Pakistan are also on the agenda as the US seeks Saudi help to counter the spread of the Taliban in both countries.
The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, has already asked the Saudis for help.
"Saudi Arabia clearly has a lot of influence throughout the entire region, and a long-standing and close relationship with Pakistan," Gates said after a visit to the kingdom last month.
The US wants the Saudis to use what influence they have in curbing extremism in both countries. Saudi Arabia could also help cut off large sums of money that flow to militants from wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities. Saudi Arabia has historical ties with the Taliban.
The kingdom and Pakistan worked together to facilitate the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s and only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, recognised Taliban rule in Afghanistan
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