Saudi energy minister says Saudi Arabia is ‘mature young people’ at loggerheads with US

  • OPEC+ oil production cut led to US-Saudi spat
  • Saudi Arabia and the United States are “steadfast allies” – Minister
  • Big Wall Street’s turnout for the leading Saudi investment summit

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia had decided to be the “mature man” in a row with the United States over oil supplies.

A Saudi Arabia-led OPEC+ decision this month to cut oil production targets has unleashed a war of words between the White House and Riyadh ahead of the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which has drawn in top US corporate executives.

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

When asked at the FII Forum how the energy relationship with the United States could be put back on track after the cuts and with the December 5 deadline for setting an expected price ceiling for Russian oil, the Saudi energy minister said: “I think because Saudi Arabia decided to be mature and let the dice fall.” “.

“We still hear that you are ‘with us or against us’, so is there room for ‘we are with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”

Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier that Riyadh and Washington would overcome their “unjustified” dispute, highlighting the long-standing relations between companies and institutions.

“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the institutional side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together, we’re very close and we’ll be done with the last disagreement which I think was unjustified,” he said.

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While noting that Saudi Arabia and the United States are “strong allies” in the long run, he highlighted that the kingdom has been “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 gasoline prices ahead of the US midterm elections in November, as Democrats try to retain control of the House and Senate.

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

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

“By the way, it’s okay to disagree. We’ve disagreed in the past, we’ve agreed in the past, but the important thing is to acknowledge the value of this relationship,” she said.

She added that “a lot of people are talking about reforming or reconsidering the relationship” and said that this is a “positive thing”, as Saudi Arabia “is not the kingdom as it was five years ago.”

Full attendance at FII

Like previous years, the three-day FII Forum that opened on Tuesday saw a huge turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.

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Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., spoke of his confidence that Saudi Arabia and the United States will preserve their 75-year alliance.

“I can’t imagine any allies agreeing on everything and not having problems – they would work to fix the problem,” Dimon said. “I am satisfied that people on both sides are working and that these countries will remain allies going forward, and hopefully help the world develop and grow properly.”

The Fisheries Industries Conference is a presentation of the Saudi Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 development plan to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that also provide job opportunities for millions of Saudis, and to attract foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration officials appeared at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, a top aide to former President Donald Trump, who had good relations with Prince Mohammed, emerged as a front-line speaker.

The Saudi government invested $2 billion in a company that Kushner founded after Trump left office.

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 marred a western boycott over the murder of Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents. It recovered the following year, attracting leaders and companies with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, after which the pandemic hit the world.

(Coverage) Aziz Al-Yaqoubi, Hadeel Al-Sayegh, Rashana Opal from Riyadh, Nadine Awadallah, Maha Al-Dahan and Youssef Saba in Dubai. Written by Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Gyuri. Editing by Louise Heavens, Mark Potter, Vinay Dwivedi, William MacLean

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Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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