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US 'disappointed' Saudi denied Jerusalem Post journalist entry visa

The White House yesterday expressed "deep disappointment" over Saudi Arabia's decision to deny an entry visa to Israel's Jerusalem Post Washington bureau chief to cover US President Barack Obama's visit to the Kingdom later this week.

The US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said: "We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa. We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision."

The newspaper said that US National Security Advisor Susan Rice and assistant to the president Tony Blinken expressed extreme displeasure over Saudi Arabia's delay in dealing with the journalist's request and the final decision to deny him entry.

The paper said that Michael Wilner is an American Jew who does not hold an Israeli citizenship and did not live in Israel at all. The White House Press Corps said Wilner was the only journalist who did not get a visa.

In a statement the corps said: "It is outrageous that the Saudi government has refused to allow a White House reporter entry to the country to cover this week's visit of President Barack Obama. The denial is an affront not only to this journalist, but to the entire White House press corps and to the principle of freedom of the press that we hold so dear."

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel but said it was willing to change its position if Israel agreed to a peace plan proposed by Riyadh which includes establishing a Palestinian state and allowing the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes.

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