G-20 News

Biden will move methodically to reevaluate Saudi ties over oil production cuts

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden will move methodically to decide how to respond to Saudi Arabia over oil production cuts, but options include changes to U.S. security aid, the national security adviser said Sunday. of the White House, Jake Sullivan.

Mr Sullivan, speaking on CNN, said no change in the US-Saudi relationship was imminent as Mr Biden reassessed it.

“And so the president is not going to act hastily. He’s going to move methodically, strategically and he’s going to take his time to consult with members of both parties, and also to have an opportunity for Congress to come back so he can sit down with them in person and work out the options.” , did he declare. said.

A day after OPEC+ oil producers last week announced production cuts over US objections, Biden has pledged to impose ‘consequences’ on Saudi Arabia for taking the party of Russia to support the cuts.

The OPEC+ decision undermines plans by Western countries to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil exports in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

That could push oil prices higher amid a war-triggered energy crisis in Ukraine and as inflation-weary US voters prepare to vote in November’s midterm elections.

Saudi officials have defended the move as driven solely by economics, not politics.

The decision was widely seen as a diplomatic slap in the face, as Mr Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July and met with Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite promising to make the kingdom an international “pariah” following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

US Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a halt to most US arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ decision.

Mr. Biden’s options “include changes in our approach to security assistance to Saudi Arabia, but I’m not going to preempt the president. What I will say is that there is no nothing imminent,” Sullivan said, adding that Mr. Biden had time to consult with Congress.

Mr Sullivan said Mr Biden had no plans to meet the crown prince at a November Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Indonesia.

The US-Saudi row escalated into talks between finance ministers and G-20 central bankers in Washington, which ended Thursday without a joint statement.

The group was already divided over the conflict in Ukraine.

G20 heads of state and government are due to meet in Bali, Indonesia in November for a summit that could see Mr Biden co-locate with Russian President Vladimir Putin and another rival, the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

When asked if Mr. Biden would view Russia’s use of a small tactical nuclear weapon or its detonation in the Black Sea as less serious than a larger bomb, Mr. Sullivan said he was dangerous to draw such distinctions and that the President would not do so.

“The use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine is the use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine. We are not going to slice salami,” Sullivan added.

He also said it was incumbent on NATO allies and other responsible countries, including China and India, to “send a very clear and decisive message to Russia that they should not consider use of nuclear weapons in this conflict”. REUTERS, AFP