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Old 05-03-2012, 11:32 AM   #3417
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3 Partners Quit Firm Handling Saudis' P.R.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 — Saudi Arabia's latest public relations problem may be with its public relations firm.

Three of the founding partners in the Washington firm, Qorvis Communications, have announced that they are leaving, and associates say their departure reflects a deep discomfort in representing the government of Saudi Arabia against accusations that Saudi leaders have turned a blind eye to terrorism.

The firm, hired by the Saudi government in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, has been paid about $200,000 a month to help the Saudis bolster their battered image with the American public.

But friends and associates, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the departures had been prompted largely by growing evidence of ties between prominent Saudis and the financing of the terrorism network Al Qaeda, and by a concern that the firm and its reputation were being overwhelmed by its work for Riyadh.

The announcement of their departures came only a day after the Saudi government held a rare news conference in Washington to insist that Saudi leaders had worked closely with the Bush administration in combating terrorism. The Saudis also released a report detailing their initiatives against Al Qaeda, including the freezing of dozens of bank accounts and a new auditing procedure for Muslim charities.
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