WASHINGTON — President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington’s closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.
In June, the State Department listed 14 countries as failing to adequately address trafficking problems, subjecting them all to possible sanctions if they did not crack down.
Of those 14, Bush concluded that Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates had made enough improvements to avoid any cut in U.S. aid or, in the case of countries that get no American financial assistance, the barring of their officials from cultural and educational events, said Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman….
In addition to Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and Kuwait _ another U.S. ally in the Middle East _ were given a complete pass on any sanctions, Jordan said. Despite periodic differences, oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United States have a tight alliance built on economic and military cooperation….
The White House statement offered no explanation of why countries were regarded differently. Jordan also could not provide one.