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The Biden administration has called for immunity for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the ongoing lawsuit about his participation in the killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The AP reports that, according to the White House, Mohammed’s title of Crown Prince and his position as Prime Minister of the Kingdom should provide a shield from lawsuits such as the one brought to court by Khashoggi’s fiancée and the human rights group he founded.
The report notes that the declaration by the White House is not binding and could be overturned by any judge. The State Department called it a “purely legal determination.”
The move by the Biden administration could be seen as a sort of olive branch amid tense bilateral relations following calls from the White House for Saudi Arabia to produce more oil that later evolved into threats. Saudi Arabia refused to respond to the cuts, instead supporting an OPEC+-wide production cut.
The Khashoggi case, however, set bilateral relations on the way to tension as soon as President Biden took office, as he pledged to punish the Saudis for the Khashoggi murder and turn them into a “pariah” nation.
Saudi Arabia has said the oil output reduction aims to anticipate the effects of an oil demand growth slowdown that the cartel said it expected and had nothing to do with politics.
OPEC+ announced a cut in its collective target by 2 million bpd beginning in November. Although the actual cut is expected to be around half that number, at 1.1 million bpd, it still is the biggest cut since the record production reduction announced in April 2020 when oil demand plunged at the start of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, as the cuts began, Saudi oil exports fell by over 400,000 bpd, according to tanker-tracking data cited this week by Bloomberg.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.