The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have declined calls with President Biden as the latter seeks to drum up further support for sanctions against Russia, the Wall Street Journal has reported, citing unnamed officials from the U.S. and the Middle East.
According to the sources, both Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed declined requests for direct communication with President Biden in recent weeks, the report said.
“There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn’t happen,” a Washington official told the Wall Street Journal about Crown Prince Mohammed. “It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil].”
The U.S. has been looking to Saudi Arabia and its closest regional ally, the UAE, to boost oil production in order to bring down oil prices, but neither has been particularly forthcoming. By extension, OPEC has also demonstrated its reluctance to boost production by more than originally agreed.
The Wall Street Journal report notes that Riyadh considers U.S.-Saudi relations to have worsened since President Biden came into office, with Saudi Arabia wanting bigger commitments to bilateral friendship from Washington.
The Biden administration has condemned the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and has actively distanced itself from the Yemen conflict, in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting Iran-backed Yemeni rebels.
In a recent interview for The Atlantic, the Saudi Crown Prince signaled that he expected Washington to do more to strengthen bilateral relations and suggested that the White House’s behavior towards Riyadh could harm Biden himself.
“Where is the potential in the world today?” the Crown Prince also told The Atlantic. “It’s in Saudi Arabia. And if you want to miss it, I believe other people in the East are going to be super happy.”
Washington has sought to mend fences with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but it seems this would take longer than expected.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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