Saudi Arabia's foreign minister today called for a cease-fire in the war in Iraq and warned the conflict would become a "blood bath" that would only deepen hatred and ill will toward the United States.

The foreign minister, Prince Saud Faisal, issued his third call this week for an end to hostilities during a weekly majlis, or open meeting, held by the country's de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, with citizens appealing for help on personal matters. The comments reflected Saudi Arabia's growing frustration over its inability to influence events unfolding just across its border.

"We have thoughts and proposals that won't come to fruition unless there is an agreement in principle it is time to stop the fighting and let diplomacy work," he said. "Perhaps it is a good time to take a breather in a war that more and more looks like it will become a blood bath. The only result is it will achieve more hatred."

Saud also said that if the war continued, long-standing ties between the kingdom and the United States could suffer.

"It is, I think, a relationship important to both sides and has weathered many crises," the foreign minister said. "If given half a chance, it could be expanded. Definitely, if the war continues, it might damage the relationship."

Saudi Arabia is one of the closest U.S. allies in the Arab world, but the royal family is finding it increasingly difficult to balance its quiet assistance in the U.S. military campaign and the growing anger of its citizens over the war in Iraq.

-- Carol Morello

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Faisal warns of deepening hatred of Americans.