President Joe Biden acknowledged the importance of Saudi Arabia’s energy resources ahead of his Middle East trip and weeks after vowing not to beg the nation for more oil.
Biden wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published over the weekend that Saudi Arabia’s “energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact on global supplies of Russia’s war in Ukraine.” The president is slated to visit the country as part of his July 13-16 trip to the region which will include an appearance at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit and a stop in Israel.
However, Biden recently stated that he wouldn’t ask Saudi Arabia to increase oil production during the trip.
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“Well, first of all, that’s not the purpose of the trip,” Biden said on June 30 whether he would ask Saudi leaders to boost oil production during the trip. “The Israelis believe it is really important that I make the trip.”
After he was pressed and asked a second time, the president answered, “no.”
“That’s the all the Gulf states meeting,” Biden continued, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council conference. “I indicated to them that I thought they should be increasing oil production, generically, not to the Saudis particularly. And I think we’re going to — I hope we see them and their own interests concluding that makes sense to do.”
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“The bottom line is, ultimately, the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia, Russia, Russia,” he said. “The reason why the food crisis exists is because of Russia, Russia, not allowing grain to get out of Ukraine.”
Biden’s comments appeared to also contradict remarks from a senior administration official during a June 13 background briefing about the upcoming trip.
The official said the president would discuss “ensuring global energy and food security” with the Middle Eastern leaders during the summit.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.