Saudi Arabia at odds with US, energy minister says

  • OPEC+ oil production cuts have led to a spat between the US and Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi Arabia and the United States “strong allies” according to the minister
  • Big Wall St Attended Flagship Saudi Investment Summit

RIYADH, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has decided to be the “mature guys” in a spat with the United States over oil supplies, the minister of peace said on Tuesday. ‘Energy of the Kingdom, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

The decision this month by the Saudi Arabia-led oil producer group OPEC+ to cut oil production targets sparked a war of words between the White House and Riyadh ahead of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum. ) of the kingdom, which attracted top American business executives.

Relations between the two traditional allies had already been strained by the Joe Biden administration’s stance on the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen, as well as Riyadh’s growing ties with China and Russia. .

Asked at the FII forum how energy relations with the United States could be put back on track after the cuts and with the December 5 deadline for the expected cap in Russian oil prices, the Saudi Minister of energy said, “I think we as Saudi Arabia have decided to be the more mature guys and drop the dice.”

“We keep hearing you ‘are with us or against us’, is there a place for ‘we are with the Saudi people’?”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that Riyadh and Washington will overcome their “unwarranted” spat, highlighting long-standing corporate and institutional ties.

“If you look at the relationship with the human side, the business side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together, we are very close and we will get over this recent spat which I think was unwarranted,” he said. he declared.

While noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States were “strong allies” over the long term, he stressed that the kingdom was “very strong” with Asian partners including China, which is the largest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.

The OPEC+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about the possibility of higher gas prices ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November as Democrats try to retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Biden promised that “there will be consequences” for US relations with Saudi Arabia after the OPEC+ decision.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, said in an interview with CNN that Saudi Arabia does not side with Russia and engages with “everyone at all levels”.

“And by the way, it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, and we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is to recognize the value of this relationship,” he said. she declared.

She added that “a lot of people are talking about reforming or reviewing the relationship” and said it was “a positive thing” because Saudi Arabia “is no longer the kingdom it was five years ago. “.

FULL IFI PARTICIPATION

As in previous years, the three-day FII forum which opened on Tuesday saw a strong turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

JPMorgan Chase & Co chief executive Jamie Dimon, speaking at the meeting, said he was confident that Saudi Arabia and the United States would preserve their 75-year-old alliance.

“I can’t imagine allies agreeing on everything and not having a problem – they’ll get away with it,” Dimon said. “I am confident that people on both sides are working and that these countries will remain allies in the future and hopefully help the world develop and develop properly.”

The IFI is a showcase of the Saudi Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 development plan aimed at weaning the economy from oil by creating new industries that also generate jobs for millions of Saudis, and attract foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration official was visible at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a former senior aide to then-President Donald Trump who had a good relationship with Prince Mohammed, was featured as a front-row speaker.

The Saudi government invested $2 billion in a company set up by Kushner after Trump left.

FII organizers said this year’s edition attracted 7,000 delegates compared to 4,000 last year.

After its inaugural launch in 2017, the forum was marred by a Western boycott over the killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents. It recovered the following year, attracting leaders and companies with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rachna Uppal in Riyadh and Nadine Awadalla, Maha El Dahan and Yousef Saba in Dubai; Written by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Geory; Editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William Maclean

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