Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, in a statement released by his publicist during his visit to Ground Zero, said: ``At times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.''
The comments drew a rebuke from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, followed by an announcement that the check was rejected.
``We are not going to accept the check - period,'' Sunny Mindel, the mayor's communications director, told The Associated Press after The AP asked her office about the prince's statement.
Giuliani, at a City Hall news conference, said such remarks ``were part of the problem'' behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
``There is no moral equivalent for this attack,'' the mayor said. ``The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification when they slaughtered 5,000, 6,000 innocent people. ... Not only are those statements wrong, they're part of the problem.''
The prince, an outspoken member of the Saudi royal family, is a major investor in American companies. After his tour of the Trade Center ruins, the prince initially called the attack ``a tremendous crime.''
``It's just unbelievable,'' he said. ``We are here to tell America and to tell New York that Saudi Arabia is with the United States wholeheartedly.''
But in the statement, the prince said the U.S. government should ``adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.''
He added: ``Our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.
Alwaleed is chairman of Kingdom Holding Co. and was No. 6 on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest men for 2001.
The prince presented an envelope to Giuliani during his visit to the disaster siste. At about that time, the publicist handed the three-page statement to journalists. In his spoken comments to reporters, the prince did not criticize U.S. policies, saying instead, ``I came here to show my allegiance to New York.''
Alwaleed said prime terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, does not represent Islam's Wahabi sect, the strict interpretation founded in Saudi Arabia.
``This guy does not belong to Wahabis,'' he said. ``He does not belong to Islam or any religion in the whole world.''