US President Joe Biden “has no plans” to meet with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at next month’s Group of Twenty (G-20) summit in Indonesia, the White House has said.
The White House has said that Biden is re-evaluating the US relationship with Saudi Arabia after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+), in which Riyadh is a top producer, announced last week it would cut oil production.
“He has no plans to meet with the crown prince at the G-20 summit,” Sullivan told CNN on Sunday, a reference to next month’s meeting of the leaders of the world’s 20 wealthiest countries.
The oil-exporting alliance, which includes the 13 OPEC nations and 11 non-members including Russia, made the production cut announcement last week. The group agreed to cut output by 2 million barrels per day, equal to 2 percent of global supply.
The OPEC move was a large blow to the administration of Biden, who visited oil-rich Saudi Arabia on a July trip to appeal to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Biden administration has grappled with high oil prices and inflation exacerbated by Russia’s war of Ukraine.
Independent observers believe the Biden administration is worried that the decision to cut oil production will cause a gas price hike in the US ahead of the November midterm elections which Democrats are already set to lose to the Republicans.
The White House has claimed Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia in July was not to lobby for an increase in the country’s oil exports.
“[Biden] is focused, however, on making sure that through every engagement that he has across the board, he’s looking out for not just the US but for our allies as well,” Sullivan said on CNN.
“One of the things that he was able to achieve in that meeting in July was the historic opening of Saudi airspace to Israeli commercial air traffic, the first step Saudi Arabia has ever taken on a path towards normalization with Israel, which we believe was a positive thing for him to be able to deliver for a strong partner of ours,” Sullivan continued.
After OPEC+ announced its production cut, some lawmakers urged the US to freeze its cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including most arms sales, accusing the kingdom of helping to underwrite the Russian war in Ukraine.
They suggested the US should stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and withdraw troops from the country in response.
“This is a relationship that got built over decades on a bipartisan basis,” Sullivan told Bash on Sunday.
“And so the president isn’t going to act precipitously, he’s going to act methodically, strategically,” he added. “And he’s going to take his time to consult with members of both parties, and also to have an opportunity for Congress to return so that he can sit with them in person.”
In a statement on Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry rejected as “not based on facts” claims that the slash in oil production was politically motivated against the US, saying that OPEC+ adopted the decision through consensus, took into account the balance of supply and demand and tried to curb market volatility.
"Saudi Arabia has viewed the statements... which have described the decision as the kingdom taking sides in international conflicts and that it was politically motivated against the United States," the Saudi foreign ministry said in the statement.
Saudi Arabia would "like to express its total rejection of these statements that are not based on facts and which are based on portraying the OPEC+ decision out of its economic context," it added.
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