Biden says will see Saudi crown prince, won’t push directly on oil

MADRID: US President Joe Biden said on Thursday (Jun 30) he would see Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince during a visit to the country next month but that the purpose of his trip was not to press them to increase oil output to curb soaring crude prices.

Asked at a press conference in Spain if he would ask the Saudi leaders to increase oil production, Biden said “No.” Instead, he would continue to make the case that all Gulf states should be raise oil output generically, not just Saudi Arabia.

“I’ve indicated to them that I thought they should be increasing oil production generically, not to the Saudis, particularly,” Biden told reporters.

The White House has sought to play down any direct talks between Biden and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, casting the upcoming trip to Riyadh as a meeting with heads of Gulf nations.

Weeks after taking office last year, Biden shifted US policy on Saudi Arabia, adopting a tougher stance over the kingdom’s human rights record and in particular the killing and dismembering of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

US intelligence implicated the crown prince in the murder. The Saudi government has denied any involvement by him.

As a presidential candidate, Biden said he wanted to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah”. However, his struggle to reduce record high gasoline prices this year has complicated the situation with the Biden administration urging oil-producing nations to boost production to offset losses caused by Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.