Biden vows consequences for Saudi Arabia after OPEC+ decision

  • OPEC+ announced a major cut in oil production target
  • Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of OPEC
  • The United States had opposed such a move

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday promised “there will be consequences” for US relations with Saudi Arabia after OPEC+ announced last week that it would cut its oil production target over US objections .

His announcement came a day after powerful Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States must immediately freeze any cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including arms sales.

Biden would not discuss what options he is considering in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said a policy review was being conducted but gave no timeline for action or information on who would lead the reassessment. The United States will be closely monitoring the situation “over the coming weeks and months,” she said.

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Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the OPEC+ decision was purely economic in nature and was taken unanimously by its member states.

“OPEC+ members acted responsibly and made the right decision,” Prince Faisal told Al Arabiya TV channel.

OPEC+, the oil producer group made up of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia, announced the production target after weeks of lobbying by US officials against such a move.

The United States has accused Saudi Arabia of bowing to Russia, which opposes a western cap on Russian oil prices in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US officials had been quietly trying to persuade their main Arab partner to abandon the idea of ​​cutting production, but Saudi Arabia’s de-factor ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was undeterred.

Bin Salman and Biden had clashed during Biden’s visit to Jeddah in July over the 2018 death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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US intelligence says the crown prince authorized an operation to capture or kill Khashoggi, a Saudi insider-turned-critic who was murdered and dismembered by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The prince, son of King Salman, 86, has denied ordering the killing but admitted it was “under my supervision”. Biden said in July he had told the prince he held him responsible.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden will work with Congress “to consider what that relationship should look like going forward.”

“And I think he’ll be ready to have those talks right away. I don’t think this is something that has to or should wait, frankly, much longer,” Kirby added.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price also said Tuesday that the Biden administration would not overlook Iran, a US opponent and Saudi Arabia’s bitter regional rival, in the review. Continue reading

Much of the US arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been in response to the Iranian threat in the region.

“There are security challenges, some of which come from Iran. Of course, we will not take our eyes off the threat that Iran poses not only to the region but in some ways beyond,” Price said.

Prince Faisal said military cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia serves the interests of both countries.

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Reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu, Humeyra Pamuk, Simon Lewis and Aziz El Yaakoubi in Riyadh Editing by Deepa Babington, Gerry Doyle and David Goodman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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