WASHINGTON POST - 7 Jan 03 - p. C03:
• Tongues from Washington to New York have been wagging about a Christmas holiday invitation to Aspen that Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Arabian ambassador, extended to New York Times correspondent Patrick Tyler and his family.
Tyler is among a select group of journalists who enjoy a close relationship with the well-connected Bandar, who owns an eyepopping 55,000-square foot ski lodge at the exclusive Colorado resort. Tyler was the only reporter to interview Bandar amid the recent controversy surrounding wife Princess Haifa's charitable donations to a Saudi man with terrorist connections. "I wouldn't be surprised if Bandar invited him to Aspen, because he invites half the world to Aspen," a knowledgeable source told us yesterday.
Tyler, for his part, confirmed Bandar's invitation, but said it was professional, not social. "This invitation was for an interview in advance of a possible war," he said. "The suggestion that it be a family trip prompted me to raise it internally [at the Times]. They considered it, I considered it, and we turned it down."
Tyler said the decision to decline was made before he found himself fielding press inquiries from The Washington Post and later the Village Voice. He said he went ahead with longstanding plans to vacation with his family in West Virginia. "We didn't hear about anyone being interested in our Christmas vacation plans until we were packing our car for West Virginia," he said.