Biden will reevaluate US relationship with Saudi Arabia, says White House

President Biden has begun a process of reassessing and possibly altering the US relationship with Saudi Arabia following the announcement by a Saudi-led coalition of oil-producing nations that it would drastically cut oil production.

That OPEC Plus move last week to cut oil output by 2 million barrels a day could boost oil prices in the US and around the world, and its due a month before the midterms. it was a particular political jab at Biden that some in the president’s circle took. as a personal snub.

“I think the president has been very clear that this is a relationship that we need to continue to reassess, that we need to be willing to review,” White House spokesman John Kirby said on CNN, reiterating Biden’s disappointment in the decision. of the United Nations Organization. the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their partners.

“Certainly in light of the OPEC decision, I think that’s where it is,” Kirby said. “And he is willing to work with Congress to think about what that relationship should look like in the future.”

Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator at the White House, said he had no announcement to make about where that process would lead, but said US officials, including Biden, “will think about what the right relationship needs.” with Saudi Arabia. to go forward.”

When asked about a timeline, Kirby said, “I think the timeline is now, and I think he’ll be willing to start having those conversations right away.”

Biden administration officials had launched an extraordinary effort to pressure Saudi Arabia to produce more oil to offset global shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the president personally visited Saudi leaders on a trip to Jiddah. in July. With last week’s announcement, Saudi Arabia rejected those pleas, at least in part.

Officials had hoped that Biden’s trip to the kingdom would improve the relationship with Saudi Arabia on a range of issues, including global oil supplies.

The cut in oil production helps Russian President Vladimir Putin as he wages war against Ukraine and was seen as a possible trigger for rising gasoline prices in the United States weeks before the midterm elections, when few Democrat majorities in the House and Senate are in jeopardy. .

Asked about a report that the Biden administration canceled an upcoming meeting involving Saudi Arabia on Iran policy in response to the OPEC Plus move, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the meetings of “medium level” will be rescheduled “as we determine what is in our national interest.”

On Monday, Sen. Robert Menendez (DN.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized Saudi Arabia, calling for an immediate freeze “on all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia.” Menéndez also promised to exercise his power as chairman of the committee to block any future arms sales.

Congress’s anger and frustration with Saudi Arabia have intensified since the oil decision. On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to stop US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“This simple but urgent measure would stop US arms sales to Saudi Arabia after its deeply offensive and destructive mistake: siding with Russia at this historic moment,” Blumenthal said. “The Saudis must reverse their oil supply cutoffs, which aid and abet the savage criminal invasion of Russia, endanger the world economy and threaten higher gas prices at American gas stations.

The legislation would immediately halt all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including military supplies, arms sales and other aid. It would also impose a one-year halt on all direct commercial sales and foreign military sales of arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia.

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