(Adds details, background)
DUBAI Oct 3 Saudi Arabia said on Monday that a
U.S. law allowing citizens to sue the kingdom over the Sept. 11
2001 attacks represented a threat to international relations and
urged Congress to act to prevent any dangerous consequences from
the new legislation.
The cabinet, at its weekly meeting in the capital Riyadh,
also said that the law, known as JASTA, represented a violation
of a leading principle preventing lawsuits against governments
that regulated international relations for hundreds of years.
"Weakening this sovereign immunity will affect all
countries, including the United States," the statement by Saudi
Information Minister Adel al-Toraifi, carried by Saudi state
news agency SPA, said.
"(The cabinet) expressed hope that wisdom will prevail and
that the U.S. Congress would take the necessary steps to avoid
the bad and dangerous consequences that may result from the
JASTA legislation," it added.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted
overwhelmingly last Wednesday to approve legislation that will
allow the families of those killed in the 2001 attacks on the
United States to seek damages from the Saudi government.
Fifteen out of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
Riyadh has always dismissed suspicions that it backed the
attackers, who killed nearly 3,000 people under the banner of
Islamist militant group al-Qaeda.
Riyadh is one of Washington's longest-standing and most
important allies in the Middle East and part of a U.S.-led
coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
The Saudi government lobbied strongly against JASTA, which
stands for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, in
the run-up to the vote, and warned it would undermine the
principle of sovereign immunity.
But Saudi officials stopped short of threatening any
specific retaliation if the law was passed.
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by William Maclean/Jeremy